Opodiphthera eucalypti (Scott) Click to enlarge image
Emperor Gum Moth, male Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    eucalypti
    Genus
    Opodiphthera
    Subfamily
    Saturniinae
    Family
    Saturniidae
    Super Family
    Bombycoidea
    Order
    Lepidoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    6 cm

Introduction

This large moth is common around Sydney and is attracted to street lights at night.

Habitat

The Emperor Gum Moth lives in forests and woodlands.

Distribution

The Emperor Gum Moth is found in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. Introduced to New Zealand.

Life history cycle

The Emperor Gum Moth glues its eggs onto eucalypt leaves, which the large green caterpillars eat when they emerge. The caterpillars are covered in protective spines and build a tough cocoon in which to pupate. They may reinforce this cocoon with bark and remain inside it for one or more years depending on environmental conditions. The adults emerge in summer. The life span of adult Emperor Gum Moths is limited to only a couple of weeks because they are unable to feed. They must rely solely on the energy consumed as caterpillars.


Emperor Gum Moth caterpillar
This spectacular caterpillar is found in eastern Australian forests and feeds mostly on eucalypt leaves. It may remain for a year or more in its tough cocoon until the conditions are suitable for the moth to emerge. The moths are a soft pink-fawn colour and have feather-duster antennae. Image: Elizabeth Tasker
© Elizabeth Tasker