T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Caterpillar of the Magpie Moth (Nyctemera annulata)

Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Arthropoda 
Class: Insecta 
Order: Lepidoptera 
Suborder: Ditrysia
Superfamily: Noctuoidea 
Family: Arctiidae 
Genus: Nyctemera
Scientific name: Nyctemera  annulata
Common name: Woolly bear, Mokarakara

It is a medium sized day flying endemic moth seen from September to June, the adults have a wingspan of 35 – 45 mm, and are black with white patches. They flutter away slowly when disturbed.
The moths can often be seen feeding at flowers; it is common around its preferred food plants of the daisy family, for example, Groundsel (and other Senecio spp.), ragworts and cineraria. The colourful hairy larvae feed openly on the plants, often stripping off all the leaves. The mature larvae will sometimes wander from the plant to pupate. The loosely spun cocoon incorporates some of the larval hairs and may also be found amongst leaves.
In New Zealand its liking for the introduced ragwort causes its caterpillars to be sometimes misidentified as those of the Cinnabar moth which was introduced as a biological control for ragwort. The magpie moth’s ‘woolly bear’ caterpillars are predominantly black with reddish-orange stripes running along the length of their bodies and have long black bristles, whereas by contrast cinnabar caterpillars have smooth bodies and alternating yellow- and black-coloured rings around their bodies. Information from Wikipedia.

Magpie moth caterpillar (The woolly bear)

Magpie Moth, Nyctemera annulata

The underside of the Magpie moth
Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0//