This striking looking caterpillar is species Comocrus behri, whose adult form is known as the Day Flying Moth or the Mistletoe Moth. They are found across mainland Australia.

The body of this caterpillar is black with white stripes and small white spots. The body of the caterpillar (like all insects) is divided into 3 parts, the head, thorax, and abdomen. When disturbed the caterpillar will rear up, lifting its head and thorax.

The caterpillar have hairs all over their bodies called setae, which is used to sense touch. They have three pairs of legs located on its thoracic segments, which are retained when changing into the adult insect. Although it appears to have more then six legs, the others are known as “false legs”, called prolegs. There are five pairs of prolegs. that help the caterpillar to move, cling and climb onto plants.

The ocelli (simple eyes that detect light) are located on the head, as well as the mouth and jaws (mandibles).

The Comocrus behri feed on the mistletoe plants (Loranthaceae). The adult moths have black wings with white markings that are in a straight and zig zag patterns. It has a black abdomen on top and orange stripes underneath, with a scarlet tuft on the tail. The wingspan is up to 5 cm. The moth are often seen during the day flying around mistletoe plants that grow on Casuarina and Eucalyptus species.

In the adult form, it is a spectacular, black and white day-flying moth that is often mistaken for a butterfly.

Common name
Day Flying Moth, Mistletoe Moth, Mistletoe Day Moth.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Noctuidae
  • Genus: Comocrus
  • Species: C. behri
  • Binomial name: Comocrus behri
Day Flying Moth (Comocrus behri) feeding on Red-capped Gum (Eucalyptus erythrocorys)
Day Flying Moth (Comocrus behri) feeding on Red-capped Gum (Eucalyptus erythrocorys)

Footnote & References

  1. Arthur Bartholomew (1834 – 1909) – Artist (English) Born in Bruton, United Kingdom. Dead in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Details of artist on Google Art Project, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Mistletoe Moth (Comocrus behri), iNaturalistAU,

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