15 Uncommon Caterpillars Found In Australia

Australia has always been a fascinating site for zoologists due to its incredible fauna, from marsupials to insects. Not only are kangaroos famous there, but they are also famous for their butterflies.

When we think about butterflies, we often overlook caterpillars, which are just as beautiful as butterflies. So here in this article, we will discuss 15 extraordinary caterpillars found in Australia. So let’s get started.

15 Caterpillars found in Australia

1) Australian Grapevine Moth Caterpillar

Scientific name   Phalaenoides glycinae 
Size (Wingspan)  up to 5 cm
Geographic location  Southeastern Australia
Identification   Have black and yellow lines all across the body
The first caterpillar we have on our list is the Australian grapevine moth caterpillar. As you can see in the picture, these caterpillars exhibits a checkered pattern.
They are black in color, with yellow linings all across the body. This southeastern Australian has the ability to confuse their predators; a red knob near the tail made them think that it was their head.
When you look at this caterpillar closely, you can easily spot some white hairs on its smooth skin.

2) Coprosma Hawk moth caterpillar

Scientific name   Hippotion scrofa 
Size (Wingspan)  up to 7 cm
Geographic location  Australia, New Caledonia and Vanuatu
Identification   Have Black caterpillar with yellow spots and stripes

When you look at the freshly emerged larvae, they look pale green in color with a black horn that is paler at the tip.

These omnivorous caterpillars subsequently acquire eyespots on their abdominal segments.

The head and thorax regions are smaller and narrower than the abdomen.

In the last phases, right before pupation, they turn blackish brown with yellow dots and stripes. Their adults also have a reddish underside, which gives them an alluring appearance.

3) Orchard Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Scientific name   Papilio aegeus
Size  102 to 108 mm
Geographic location  Eastern Australia
Identification  Green larva with irregular white and yellow markings

Palilio aegeus, or orchard swallowtail butterfly, is named after the ancient Greek king Aegeus.

The mature larvae of this orchard swallowtail butterfly are yellowish-green with irregular white and yellow markings.

They are well-known pests of suburban lemon grass.

They are one of Australia’s biggest and most intriguing butterflies. Its caterpillars are extraordinary, with black and white spines that protect them from predators.

4) Cairns Birdwing butterfly caterpillar

Scientific name   Ornithoptera euphorion
Size (Wingspan)   up to 18 cm 
Geographic location  Queensland
Identification   Caterpillars have large orange spines with black tips 

The caterpillar of this Cairns birdwing butterfly is so intriguing that it will make you astonished by their appearance.

These caterpillars are dark brown in hue, with orange spines with black ends and a yellow fifth spine.

The female of this species is so stupid that she lays eggs in an elegant Dutchman’s pipe, an Australian vine, but the larvae perish due to the poison they contain.

5) Mottled Cup Moth caterpillar

Scientific name   Doratifera vulnerans
Size (Wingspan)  2 cm to 5 cm
Geographic location  Queensland,  New South Wales,  Victoria, and  Western Australia
Identification   Caterpillar have four knobs on each side

The next caterpillar we have on our list is the mottled cup moth caterpillar, which is commonly found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia.

This species exhibits aposematism; they appear so threatening that no one will approach them.

These caterpillars have characteristic four knobs on each side and a pair of yellow and green saddle-like marks on the back.

These knobs contain stinging hairs that have the ability to sting.

6) White Cabbage moth caterpillar

Scientific name   Pieris rapae 
Size (Wingspan) 32–47 mm
Geographic location  Melbourne, Sydney
Identification  caterpillars are blue-green in color with black spots

Cabbageworms have long been a source of concern for farmers. Perhaps you have come upon them as well.

These larvae have five legs and are velvety blue-green in hue with black spots.

To become pupae, they had to go through five steps. On each side, a broken yellow line can also be observed.

7) Tailed Emperor butterfly caterpillar

Scientific name   Polyura sempronius 
Size (Wingspan)  75 to 85 mm
Geographic location  Southern New South Wales, Victoria, and eastern South Australia
Identification  Have a yellow line (crescents) on each side

During this stage of life, the caterpillar of this tailed emperor butterfly changes appearance several times.

In the juvenile stage, they are yellow in color with a black head. Later, not only their color but also four horns appear on their heads.

In the last stages, they become green in color, with a lot of yellow crescents present on each side.

They can attain a length of 8 cm. During pupation, they use their cremaster or hooks to grip the stem of their feeding plant.

8) Painted Vine Moth caterpillar

Scientific name   Agarista agricola
Size (Wingspan)  50 mm
Geographic location  Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia
Identification  Caterpillars have white and black alternative bands and a few orange bands in between

White and black alternative bands, with some orange bands in between, make this caterpillar species intriguing.

They also have black antennae pairs all over the body.

Before pupation, they used to chew bark and break it into small pieces, in which they cocooned themselves.

They feed on various plants like Australian Native Grape, Slender Grape, Cultivated Grape, etc. These caterpillars can grow up to 7 cm.

9) Black Jezebel butterfly caterpillar

Scientific name   Delias nigrina 
Size (Wingspan)  56 mm
Geographic location  eastern seaboard of Australia, from Queensland through New South Wales to Victoria
Identification  Caterpillars are yellow-brown with white spiny feathers

With yellow, white, and red margins on the wings, these black Jezebel butterflies come on the list of the most beautiful butterflies.

Not only these adults, but their larvae are also fascinating.

Males and females show a clear-cut distinction in terms of appearance.

One spot these creatures on the eastern seaboard of Australia, from Queensland through New South Wales to Victoria on mistletoes.

10) Citrus Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Scientific name   Papilio demodocus 
Size (Wingspan)  80 to 100 mm
Geographic location   Southern Australia
Identification  have an orange-colored organ called osmeterium 

Citrus swallowtail or Christmas butterfly are some of the common names of Papilio demodocus.

They got the common name citrus swallowtail as they lay eggs on the citrus leaves.

In the juvenile stage, larvae resemble the bird’s waste in order to protect themselves from predators. In later stages, they can maximally reach a length of up to 45 mm.

In their mature state, they contain osmeterium, which is a characteristic feature of Papilionidae family larvae.

These forked structures usually secrete a foul smell, which doesn’t let predators come near them.

11) Coequosa australasiae caterpillar

Scientific name   Coequosa australasiae
Size (Wingspan)  up to 120 mm
Geographic location  New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria
Identification  Caterpillars have thin spines on their abdomen

Males of this moth species have tufts of orange hair called coremata to attract females, which is a characteristic feature of this species.

The length of 11 cm and green coloration with small warts make these larvae distinctive from other species.

Yellow diagonal lines are also found on their abdomen.

One can easily spot them in New South Wales, the northern territory, Queensland, and Victoria, feeding on the foliage of gum trees like Sydney blue gum, etc.

12) Batwing moth caterpillar

Scientific name   Chelepteryx collesi
Size   140 to 160 mm
Geographic location   Australasia
Identification   Have tufts of long, stiff, reddish hairs

Have you ever seen a caterpillar with a spine all over the body? No, then meet this batwing moth caterpillar.

These batwing moth larvae have tufts of long, stiff reddish hairs all across their bodies, which protect them from their potential predators.

They are one of the largest Australian caterpillars that can reach a length of up to 12 cm.

Not only are they dangerous to their predators, but also to the people who climb gum trees. They are commonly found in Australasia.

13) Australian painted lady caterpillar

Scientific name   Vanessa kershawi 
Size   43 to 47mm
Geographic location   Southern Australia
Identification   Have different yellow patterns, like dots and stripes, all over the body 

Another spiny caterpillar we have on our list is the Australian-painted lady caterpillar.

These caterpillars are nocturnal and spend the day hiding under tree leaves.

These caterpillars are brown in color with different yellow patterns present all over the body, and branched spines are also present.

They may be found on daisy family plants such as strawflower and rice flower.

14) Saunders’ case moth caterpillar

Scientific name   Metura elongatus 
Size (Wingspan)  up to 30 mm
Geographic location   Eastern Australia
Identification   Silk Shelter is present

Ever imagined a caterpillar who always bears a mobile silk case all the time you see them? no right, but they really exist.

These Saunders’ case moth caterpillars are black and orange in color with a silk shelter that is covered with leaves and twigs.

This silk shelter not only aids in protection but also helps them climb even on glass surfaces.

In the later stages, larvae pupate themselves in these cases. Also, wingless females are present in this species.

15) Gum-leaf Skeletoniser caterpillar

Scientific name   Uraba lugens
Size   25 to 30 mm
Geographic location  temperate, subtropical, and tropical Australia
Identification  Have previous molted skin hat

The gum leaf skeletonizer caterpillars are also known as mad hatter pillars, and the unicorn caterpillars are named due to their unique exoskeleton.

Earlier molted skin gets accumulated in their head region, which gives it a hat appearance.

They are all covered with spines or white setae, which can even lead to an anaphylactic reaction in humans if they come into contact with them.


Here we conclude our article on 15 uncommon caterpillars found in Australia.

Australia is full of unseen surprises, and one of them we just saw.

These caterpillars have adapted so beautifully that they have been amazing to us for a long time.

I hope you like reading about these creatures. We will be back with another article soon.


Wikipedia, https://www.butterflyhouse.com.au/

Also Read: