What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

‘large brown moth
December 25, 2009
We found a live moth in our house that we have not seen before. It has a wing span of about 12cm the length of a pen and has cicles on the lower wings. see photo.
Missie Macdonald
Leithfield, North Canterbury

Emperor Gum Moth

Emperor Gum Moth

Hi Missie,
We needed to check an Atlas to determine that North Caterbury was not in England, but rather on the South Island of New Zealand.  We are quite certain that this is an Emperor Gum Moth,
Opodiphthera eucalypti, and the species has been introduced to both the North and South islands of New Zealand.  This is our second report of an Emperor Gum Moth from New Zealand in a few weeks.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Leithfield, North Canterbury, New Zealand

31 Responses to Emperor Gum Moth from New Zealand

  1. Cheryl Trotter says:

    We have today found more than one such caterpillar in our eucalyptus type tree (“Silver Gum Tree”) at Tirohanga Beach property, 7 x kms east of Opotiki, NZ. It is a huge caterpillar – about 100mm long, and we noticed the first one from it’s huge “droppings” onto our driveway. It has been difficult to identify this species -m until we discovered your web site and comments

  2. Pete West says:

    I was cutting the grass today and I knocked out one of these Gum Moths. It was huge, I’ve never seen one before. We live in Taupo (04.11.13)

  3. Tuksta says:

    I found one of these in Tokoroa yesterday, it was huge.

  4. Mike Mead says:

    We just found one on our window sill, West Auckland.

    Bit smaller than a pen, but beautiful furry legs and antennae.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Just found a very large one of these (10cm+ wingspan) in our garden on the north shore Auckland 10.1.13

  6. Glenn says:

    Found one of these in Morrinsville today AWESOME

  7. Glenn says:

    its a male 🙂

  8. Tina says:

    I found one of these beautiful Moths in Kaukapakapa Auckland last night

  9. Harriet says:

    I just found one of these moths at our house in Kaukapakapa but it was dead.
    Harriet age 10

  10. Raewyn says:

    One of these came into my brother’s house in Whakatane, NZ, a couple of evenings ago and laid eggs on the side of a plastic tumbler lying on the dining room table!

  11. Peter says:

    Found female this morning on picnic table I’m at waterview Auckland next to Oakley creek reserve. Happy new year.

  12. Jeanette says:

    I found the same moth this morning out front of the supermarket.. will set free to night.. Palmerston north nz

    • bugman says:

      It sounds like this is the prime time for the eclosion of Emperor Gum Moths. These moths do not feed as adults and generally live about a week, long enough to find a mate and to lay eggs. Since the opportunity to mate is so short, when conditions are favorable, there is most likely a mass emergence.

      • Frances says:

        Emperor Gum Moth. Waiharara we fine these moths every year. Found 5 cacoons when we trimmed the gum trees. Amazing cacoons. Be great to watch a moth making there cacoon. They eat there way out throw the top. Also watch one laying its eggs. The eggs look as if they have a hard shell all stuck together in a bunch.

  13. Estelle says:

    We found one of these this morning in our meadowbank garden. It was perched on the garden seat for most of the day, and still there now. My daughter carefully measured it’s wingspan at 13cm. We think it’s a boy but not sure.

  14. James says:

    We had one on our deck this morning. Unfortunately seems almost dead but a huge thing with big fury legs. We actually thought it could have been a rare species of bat. This is in new plymouth 7/11/15. Will try to get a photo posted up

  15. Luka says:

    I just found one in Waikanae whilst out walking this morning . It was hanging on to a grass reed. Wow so awesome.

  16. Donny says:

    We found a massive one (thought it was fake at first) at the police college in Aotea – Porirua. Didn’t know moths could get that big.

  17. Skye says:

    We had a Emperor Gum Moth visit us at around 10:30pm, we live in South Taranaki, Waverley, I have to very old an massive gum trees in my section, this the first time I’ve seen one in person, it was beautiful, took pics an a vid 🙂 my partner was stocked to be holding it.

  18. Rod says:

    Just saw a dead one on the road in Westmorland, Christchurch. Rushed home to Google it, in case it was an illegal immigrant, and we needed to start building a wall!

  19. Michele McVicar says:

    I have found two of these Emperor Gum Moths since moving to Parklands , Christchurch! One on the footpath of Puhara Ave and just found a live one a few minutes ago in my garden. He was looking a bit wobbly, but is still alive.
    I too was worried they were some kind of invasive species. I see they carry a deadly virus to Crickets and they could be a problem to forests in large numbers. It’s a very beautiful moth. Love the hairy legs and antennae, and reddish brown wings with the pink circles.

    • Roana says:

      We had one on our patio for quite a few hours today – Strowan, Christchurch. Never seen anything so large in NZ, so had to come & look it up!! It seems it was a male.

  20. Christine Hanning says:

    I saw this moth last night on our fence railings out at the gate. It was beautiful! Stayed there for a good couple of hours from being seen and was sitting in a really windy spot. I wanted to pick him up and move him but wasn’t sure if one should….. He was gone this morning 🙁

  21. Mariska says:

    I have found five of these huge caterpillars my gum tree today, in Whakamaru. I noticed the young tree had lost alot of its leaves and found these culprits eating it away! They shoot out a yellow tinged fluid from their spinny bits and try to bite when I plucked them off with tongs! Is this fluid toxic? I dont think they are a good thing and are deemed a pest in NZ.

    • bugman says:

      Five caterpillars feeding on leaves will not do permanent harm to the tree. Gum Moth Caterpillars are not toxic.

  22. Chris Woods says:

    We rescued a cocoon from a small branch when the tree was being cut down. That was in March. The moth emerged at midnight on Saturday night. After photographing it we released it. What a beautiful creature.

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