Brief SummaryRead full entry
The monotypic family Carthaeidae Common, 1966 includes only a single species, Carthaea saturnioides Walker, 1858, and is endemic to Australia. Adults of this large species have a very beautiful wing pattern with very prominent eye-spots, making them a rather popular icon for nature-related publications and web pages. Morphologically, the species stands out from other Bombycoidea by its retention of several symplesiomorphies (shared, ancestral characteristics), which is why the family was considered to be a particularly "primitive" member of the superfamily Bombycoidea (Common 1966). Little is known about the species beyond the thorough descriptions by Common (1966, 1990; largely morphology) and the illustration of eggs and larval records by McFarland (1973, 1979). Although specimens are present in the Australian National Insect Collection (Canberra) and larvae have been raised from eggs by a few lepidopterists, nothing has been published on the larval stages preceding the penultimate instar described by Common (1966). Likewise, published life history observations are limited to Common (1966) and McFarland (1979). This lack of information is largely due to the very limited distribution of the species.