What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

Logo: What Bug Is That? Logo: Taxonomy Research & Information Network



The family (Michener 1952) includes some of the largest and finest moths, with stout, hairy bodies, small in proportion to the broad wings, and prominent eye-spots.


Antennae short, naked, bipectinate to apex in both sexes, each segment usually with 4 pectinations; proboscis usually absent; maxillary palps vestigial; labial palps small; epiphysis present, tibial spurs 0-2-2, 0-2-4 or absent, short, apices bare; wings very broad; fore wing often falcate, without retinaculum, areole absent, R usually with 3, never more than 4 branches, M 2 arising nearer to M 1 than to M 3 , CuP absent; hind wing without frenulum or thickened frenulum base, humeral angle expanded, Sc + R 1 diverging from Rs, M 2 as in fore wing, CuP absent, 1 anal vein. Larva with scoli, at least in early instars, secondary setae usually small, numerous, abdominal segment 8 often with dorsal projection, crochets biordinal, simple. Pupa with cremaster simple, when present; in tough silken cocoon.


Some Australian genera also occur in the Oriental or Papuan areas. Attacus (1 sp.) and Coscinocera (1 sp.) are without tibial spurs, and the discal cell is open in both wings. A . dohertyi occurs at Darwin, N.T., and in Indonesia. The tornal area of the hind wing in C . hercules , a striking species from North Qld and New Guinea, is produced into a long tail, much broader in the female. In Opodiphthera (8 spp.) an epiphysis is present in both sexes, and the mid and hind tibiae each has an apical pair of short stout spurs. The first axillary sclerite of the fore wing is armed with a strong distal hook, used by the freshly emerged moth to open the cocoon. O . eucalypti is from eastern Australia, and O . helena from both the south-east and south-west. The mature larva of O . eucalypti is bluish green, with a pale lateral stripe and red and blue scoli; that of O . helena is green with a broad pink lateral stripe, and lacks scoli. Both feed on the foliage of Eucalyptus , and attach their oval, grey cocoons to the bark. The larvae of the larger O . loranthi feed gregariously on mistletoe growing on Eucalyptus ; the cocoons are spun in a mass on the butt of the mistletoe.

Saturniidae images on Australian Moths Online

  • Pupa of Coscinocera hercules

  • Coscinocera hercules

  • Larva of Coscinocera hercules

  • Opodiphthera eucalypti