Oxycanus Grass Grub

Oxycanus antipoda

Other names: Oxycanus fuscomaculatus

Family: - Hepialidae

Order: - Lepidoptera



Attracted to lights.

Colour - Brown or grey.

Body - Large size. Stout. Long hair scales.

Wings - 2 Pairs. Membranous. Hairy. Slender. Patterned. Wing-span 50mm

Mouthparts -

Antennae - 3 segments.

Legs - Broad overlapping scales. Feet (Tarsi) have 5 segments.

Head - Broad overlapping scales. Large rounded compound eyes.

Thorax - Broad overlapping scales. 3 segments. Front segment much smaller. Hairy

Abdomen - Broad overlapping scales. 7-11 segments. Spiracles on segments 1-7. Hairy

Egg -

Habits - Can't fly when cold. Rapid flyers from the "Swift moth" family. Fly in autumn and winter. Large flights of moths may be associated with rain.

Attracted to fire. Cooked moths eaten by aborigines.

Caterpillar -

Colour - Dark green brown or bluish.

Body - up to 75mm long, 5-8mm wide.

Mouthparts - Chewing.

Antennae - Short. 3 segments.

Legs - 5 segments.

Head - Hard.

Thorax - 10-11 segments. Spiracles on segments 1 to 8. Prolegs on segments 3-6 and 10.

Abdomen -

Habits - Herbivorous. Dig into soil to eat roots and emerge at night to eat shoots of grasses. Live in silk lined vertical tunnels.

Pupa -

One of the 'witchetty grubs' eaten by aborigines.


Life Cycle:

Moth flights associated with rain. Caterpillars remain close to where eggs were laid.


Origin and History:



Caterpillar is a major pest of grasses. Tussocky grasses are worst affected. These are often chewed off at ground level.

Management and Control:

Inspect pastures carefully in summer by digging up the top 75mm of soil. Insecticides can be applied if caterpillars are present.

Related Species:

Underground Grass Grub.

Similar Species:


CSIRO. The Insects of Australia. Melbourne University Press. (1991) p223, 841, 836.

Goode, J. Insects of Australia. Angus and Robertson. p166.

Victorian Department of Agriculture. Insect Bulletins. p2.


Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 for more information.