This striking looking caterpillar is the species Austrocaligula engaea, whose adult form is known commonly as one of the Emperor Moths or the Mistletoe Emperor Moth (a name that covers a number of species).

The body of this caterpillar is black with white setae (the stiff structure that resembles a hair or a bristle), that is attached through the red verrucae (the wart-like knobs from which the setae are attached).

This species of caterpillar (family Saturniidae) feed on mistletoe plants (family Loranthaceae).

The 5 species in the genus Austrocaligula (have been moved from the genus Opodiphthera), with all 5 species occurring in Australia. They have been recorded in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria. The Austrocaligula eucalypti have a population that has been introduced in New Zealand.

Like all insects, the body of the caterpillar is divided into 3 parts, that include the head, thorax, and abdomen. The hair / bristle like structures on the body of the caterpillar are known as setae, which the caterpillar use to sense touch. They have three pairs of legs located on its thoracic segments, that are retained when the insect changes into the adult insect.

Common name
Mistletoe Moth, Emperor Moth.

Check out our footnote links to see information and images of the adult form.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Saturniidae
  • Genus: Austrocaligula
  • Species: Austrocaligula engaea
  • Synonyms:
    • Opodiphthera engaea
    • Antheraea engaea

Footnote & References

  1. Thanks to Steven Dodge for the ID of this caterpillar – from Butterflies, Moths and other Invertebrates of Australia, Facebook Private Group,
  2. Austrocaligula engaea, Coffs Harbour Butterfly House,

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