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Heliotrope moth larvae

Agronomist, Tim Colvin (IK Caldwell), reports observing Heliotrope moth (Uthethesia pulchelloides) in a paddock near Mathoura, in the Riverina district of New South Wales. The caterpillars have been observed feeding on Patterson’s Curse within a fallow paddock that will be sown into cereal this year. Caterpillars have also been observed on Patterson’s Curse near Berrigan, also in the Riverina district of New South Wales.

Heliotrope moths are medium-sized, distinctly coloured and distasteful to predators. They appear almost white when flying, but at rest, the full pattern of red and black spots on the white forewings can be seen. Each hindwing is white with two black spots and an irregular black margin. Click here for images of heliotrope moth.

Heliotrope moth caterpillars have sparse grey hairs, and are black with orange spots and broken cream lines along the body. They contain poisonous alkaloids derived from their food-plants and reach approximately 25 mm in length. They are commonly seen in autumn and are relatively host specific, mainly feeding on Heliotrope and Echium species. They are not reported to attack pastures or broad-acre crops and are unlikely to cause damage to cereals, oilseeds or pulses.

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