Field of Science

ID for Heather?

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I was recently contacted by Heather Adamson who wanted to know if I could identify the animal in the above picture. She photographed it on an old post in the region of West Coolup, south of Mandurah here in Western Australia. I can tell her that it is some form of Lepidoptera larva (in other words, a caterpillar) and it looks like it may be beginning to weave itself a cocoon. Beyond that, I couldn't say. Do any of my readers have a better idea of what it is than I do?

Update: I shared this post to the Western Australian Insects group on Facebook, and Daniel Heald has suggested that Heather's photo may show the pupa of a lymantriid moth Teia athlophora. This species constructs itself a loose, cage-like cocoon from its own irritant hairs. The male, when he emerges, is a fairly standard looking brown moth, but the female is fat and flightless with only tiny stubs of wings. She will continue to live in and around her pupal cocoon, awaiting visits from courting males.


  1. While I can't say a species, that type of cocoon suggests a member of the Arctiidae, many arctiids weave tent-like cocoons out of their own body hairs. I hope that can help in the search for a species ID!

  2. I've been sent a possible ID through Facebook that I've included as an update in the original post.


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