Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Puriri moth damage

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