Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Puriri moth caterpillar

Aenetus virescens (Doubleday)

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Hepialidae

Size range

  • A large caterpillar, up to 70–80 mm long


  • New Zealand native. North Island

Life History

  • Caterpillars are long lived, probably 7 years
  • Eggs are scattered by the adult over the forest floor
  • The young caterpillars live at first in the leaf litter on fungus and rotten wood, then climb the trunk of a tree (often puriri or putaputaweta) and bore into the trunk
  • They live in a tunnel in the trunk of the tree feeding on callous tissue that the tree is induced to produce around the wound at the entrance of the tunnel. The tunnel entrance is protected by a tough silken cover

Further information

Additional images