Alice Springs Desert Park

ASDP Butterflies & MothsBanksia Moth – Caterpillar Caper White Butterfly Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus ssp sthenelus) Day Flying Moth / Mistletoe Moth Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) Noctuinae (Caterpillar) Processionary Caterpillar

The Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) is also known as the Salt and Pepper Moth. Often seen flying around during the feeding on flowers.

A colourful moth with front wings that are red, brown and black dots on white background. We found this moth flying around in Alice Springs, during the Central Australia summer.

Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), Alice Springs Desert Park NT
Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), Alice Springs Desert Park NT

It is found across the Indo-Australian region including Borneo, Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, Papua, Seychelles, most of Australia and Tenerife. The adult moth has an extensive migratory flight ranges, reaching some of the most remote oceanic islands, such as Henderson Island and Ducie Island. With its vast range, it is not surprising that there are a number of sub-species.2

Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), Alice Springs Desert Park NT
Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), Alice Springs Desert Park NT

The caterpillar of this moth, has sparse grey hairs, are black with orange spots and broken cream lines along the body. They feed on Heliotrope Heliotropium europaeum and Echium plantagineum.

One of the identifying features of Utetheisa pulchelloides is that the forewing is white with five interrupted scarlet bands with a series of black spots between them, along the hind margin of the fore wings and the tornus. There are however, some variation when identifying U. pulchelloides.

Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), Alice Springs Desert Park NT
Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), Alice Springs Desert Park NT

Check out our page on Fauna | Insects | Moths | Rattlepod Moth (Utetheisa)


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Informal: Pterygotes
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Unranked: Ditrysia
  • Superfamily: Noctuoidea
  • Family: Erebidae
  • Subfamily: Arctiinae
  • Tribe: Arctiini
  • Genus: Utetheisa
  • Species: Utetheisa pulchelloides


Footnote & References

  1. Many thanks to for ID to Tony Eales and Iskander Kaliananda, member of Entomology Australia “Invertebratology”, https://www.facebook.com/groups/507004496955277/
  2. Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides), iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/125231-Utetheisa-pulchelloides
  3. Utetheisa pulchelloides Hampson, 1907, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/3853fe16-ec36-44da-8fd8-2f9fe53e0170
  4. Utetheisa pulchelloides Hampson, 1907, Heliotrope Moth, Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/arct/pulchelloides.html
  5. Heliotrope Moth – Utetheisa pulchelloides, Brisbane Insects and Spiders , https://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_tigermoths/HeliotropeMoth.htm

ASDP Butterflies & MothsBanksia Moth – Caterpillar Caper White Butterfly Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus ssp sthenelus) Day Flying Moth / Mistletoe Moth Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) Noctuinae (Caterpillar) Processionary Caterpillar

ASDP InsectsASDP Insects Index ASDP Ants ASDP Camponotus denticulatus ASDP Opisthopsis sp ASDP Bees Amegilla chlorocyanea Bee Braunsapis sp Exoneurella eremophila Bee Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) Mating Lasioglossum (Homalictus) ASDP Beetles Bush Cockroach (Ellipsidion humarale) Snout Beetle (Lixus) Transverse Ladybird ASDP Butterflies & Moths Banksia Moth – Caterpillar Caper White Butterfly Chequered Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus ssp sthenelus) Day Flying Moth / Mistletoe Moth Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) Noctuinae (Caterpillar) Processionary Caterpillar ASDP Diptera Bee Fly (Australiphthiria sp) Bee Fly (Ligyra cingulata) ASDP Hemiptera / Heteroptera Crusader Bug (Mictis profana) Ground Shield Bug ASDP Orthoptera ASDP Katydid (Taeniomenae) ASDP Wasps Potter Wasp Torymus Chalcid Wasp ASDP Tropidoderus gracilifemur

ASDP FaunaASDP Arachnida ASDP Birds ASDP Insects ASDP Mammals ASDP Marsupials ASDP Reptiles Monotreme – Short-beaked Echidna

Alice Springs Desert ParkFauna Flora Nature Theatre Nocturnal House