Habitat: Rainforests on red basalt soils, vine forests on alluvial flats and rainforests on granite soils 

Distribution: Rainforests of eastern mainland Australia 

Conservation status: Not listed, although a subspecies, the southern pink underwing moth (Phyllodes imperialis smithersi), is listed under Commonwealth legislation as Threatened and is the subject of a Threatened Species Network project. 

Main threats: Fragmentation of rainforest habitat and loss of the Carronia vine, on which the larve are reliant.  


One of Australia's largest moths, the pink underwing moth (Phyllodes imperialis) is named for the brilliant pink spots present on its otherwise dark rear wings. They possess forewings that resemble the shape of a leaf, coloured in shades of grey and brown, and dotted with white on the lower side. 

When their wings are fully extended, they span 13 to 14 centimetres.

Fun fact: It is generally thought that the pink underwing moth does not exhibit the common moth behaviour of being attracted to light.


Potential breeding grounds for the pink underwing moth are confined to areas where the caterpillars' exclusive food source, the Carronia Vine, is found within the rainforests of Australia. 

Their caterpillars are one of the world’s most exotic and eccentric-looking. They evolve from a muted brown colour to displaying two prominent 'eye' markings, with a dual line of white 'teeth' markings situated between these mimic eyes.

During the pupal phase, they create a bronze-coloured cocoon that is 5 centimetres in length, crafted from silk and foliage, and encircled by metallic brown bands. 

Once they've pupated, the adult moths feed on the tender fruits of indigenous rainforest flora, and are typically observed feeding on fruit at night that is overripe or damaged, yet still attached to the plant.

The most effective method for locating caterpillars involves inspecting the underside and vicinity of lower leaves of the Carronia vine that show signs of recent feeding. 

Having a connected rainforest is crucial to the long-term survival of this species. You can help protect pink underwing moth habitat in the Daintree. Find out how.

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