Common Bag Moth
New Zealand Status: Endemic
Conservation Status: Not Threatened
Liothula omnivora is a nocturnal, endemic, moth that is common throughout New Zealand. The adult male is a hairy black moth with a wingspan of 28mm to 38mm. The adult female is never becomes a moth, instead remaining a wingless maggot that never leaves the bag that she made as a caterpillar.
Fertilisation of the female is achieved by the male moth inserting the telescopic tip of his abdomen through the opening at the narrow end of the bag. The female then lays her eggs and dies. When the eggs in the bag hatch the caterpillars emerge and climb over the host plant. After several days the caterpillar spins a bag made of silk and pieces of vegitation around itself. The cylindrical bag is very strong, about 80 mm long and 9 mm diameter, and is dragged around by the caterpillar within it.
The Liothula omnivora caterpillar feeds on a very wide range of native and exotic broad-leaved and coniferous shrubs and trees.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader