By: Michael Fox

Anthela canescens 2 - 8 June 2013

Large Anthelid Moth – Anthela canescens
(head to left)

I am often asked what keeps me with the huge job of engaging our community in restoration of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Today I realised that one thing that keeps me going is the sense of achievement when a young neighbour knocks on my door with a native snail or today a moth caterpillar in a box. When I was Liam’s age I was inspired by David Fleay’s nature notes in the Courier Mail, so I feel honoured to have to opportunity to help another young naturalist.

Anthela canescens - feet & prolegs - 8 June 2013

True legs and prolegs

I have added this new specimen to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve crediting Liam.

Every time I find a new animal or plant, or have them arrive at my door, I learn something new as I work through identification and take close-up photos.

Anthela canescens - feet close - 8 June 2013

Prolegs gripping plastic box

Brisbane Insects (see photos of moth) and Lepidoptera Butterfly House are two valuable sites for identification of moths and butterflies.

My wife took one look at this specimen and said it looks like a Chinese Shih Tzu … all hair and attitude.

Anthela canescens - wiskers - 8 June 2013

Black spine like hairs

Macro-photos of the caterpillar legs shows the dramatic difference between the true legs attached to the thorax near the head and the prolegs attached to the abdomen. The prolegs look like large pads for gripping while the true legs look like something from a science fiction monster.

A close up photo of the hairy monster showed clusters of black spine like hairs growing out of bright yellow balls. These non-envenomating (no venom) hairs produced a mechanical irritation on contact. The hairs are fragile and easily dislodged from the caterpillar, they adhere to the surface of skin when the caterpillar is contacted. (Uni Sydney Department of Medical Entomology – Caterpillars)

The addition of Liam’s specimen means we now have twenty seven different moths photographed and identified and living in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.