Home / Saturniidae Moth (Saturniidae) / Emperor Gum Moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti)

Emperor Gum Moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti)

Emperor Gum Moth
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Emperor gum moth of the Saturniidae family is a native of different parts of Australia and New Zealand. They were initially a part of the Opodiphthera genus but presently placed in the Antheraea genus.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Saturniidae
  • Genus: Opodiphthera
  • Scientific Name: Opodiphthera eucalypti

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Emperor Gum Moth Caterpillar
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After hatching, the larvae appear black and also have short hairs on the node-like projections called tubercles. These hairs, however, are not urticating, and the larvae will not sting if touched. They go through about five instars and attain a new skin color in every stage. In their final instar, the larvae have a greenish-blue body with cream or yellow stripes and blue or red nodes. They mainly feed on eucalyptus leaves and are difficult to spot.

Pupa

Emperor Gum Moth Cocoon
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The pupa remains enclosed inside a brown silken cocoon enveloped within a leafy enclosure. A day after the completion of spinning, the cocoon hardens, rough on the outside and smooth within. One could even spot small air holes to the side, indicating that they are air-tight. In most cases, the adult moth comes out of the cocoon in the following spring or summer. However, the weather condition plays an integral part in this regard. The moth could stay inside the cocoon anywhere from 2 to 5 years.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Female emperor gum moth species appear larger with thinner antennae, also having fewer hairs. They are mostly spotted at night. On the other hand, the males have a feathery, hairy antenna.

Color and Appearance

The wings appear furry, having a reddish-brown coloration. One striking feature is the four big eyes, arranged in groups of two on the fore and hindwings.

Opodiphthera eucalypti
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The front wings’ eyes have a pinkish hue, while those on the back wings look orangish with a black outline. Black, white, and orange curved lines border the eyes below.

Average Wingspan: 12 – 15 cm

Flight Pattern: Not recorded

Season: March- May

Egg

Emperor Gum Moth Eggs
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The eggs are laid in clusters and attached to eucalyptus leaves, mainly during April and May.

Quick Facts

DistributionIn parts of Australia, including Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Northern Territory
HabitatWoodlands, and forests
PredatorsBirds, and bats
Lifespan of Adults3 – 4 weeks
Host PlantsEucalyptus, grapevines, silver birch, pepper trees
Adult DietDon’t feed

Did You Know

  • They were used in developing insect cell cultures, and CSIRO researcher Dr. Thomas Grace pioneered this process in 1962.
Emperor Gum Moth Image
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Emperor Gum Moth Picture
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Photos of Emperor Gum Moth
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