By: Michael Fox

 

In June 2013 a young neighbour Liam knocked on my door with an moth caterpillar in a box. A Large Anthelid Moth – Anthela canescens caterpillar.

 

I learnt a lot studying Liam’s caterpillar particularly about defense mechanisms. The Anthela canescens has non-envenomating (no venom) hairs that produce 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.

Other moth caterpillars like the curious Mottled Cup Moth caterpillar Doratifera vulnerans have more active defenses with venomous spines they deploy along their sides like a galleon running out its canons. The venom is not dangerous but does pack a sting if you brush against the caterpillar.

So I was pleased to find a Large Anthelid Moth yesterday. So I now know what Liam’s caterpillar would grow into.

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Large Anthelid Moth plumose antennae

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I was fascinated by the moth’s “furry” plumose antennae.

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Close-up showing antennae hairs

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“There are many variations in both the shape and the amount of bristles in plumose antennae. In moths, the plumose antennae of the males act as chemoreceptors and enable them to detect pheremones given off by the female. The hairs on each antenna significantly increases the receptive surface area so that even the most minute chemical changes in the environment can be detected.”

University of Sydney Biological Sciences 

I have updated the Flora & Fauna files.

Check what other moths are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

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By: Michael Fox

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Griffith Mates Sophie, Jocelyn and Ryan with Noel

 

Our Griffith Mates partners have again provided valuable for restoration of our Fox Gully Bushcare site. At the last event for 2016 we first checked what species can now be found in the Small Bird Habitat.

Griffith Mates participated in the 2015 National Tree Day planting of the Small Bird Habitat so it was great to be able to show the increase in species diversity in just one year.

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Painted Pine Moth Orgyia australis caterpillar

The Small Bird Habitat is an initiative to create the specialised habitat our small forest birds like Variegated Fair Wrens Malurus lamberti. These small insect eating birds are valuable partners in controlling pests in our backyards. Building an effective habitat requires attracting a diverse range of insect species to provide food.

Finding several Painted Pine Moth Orgyia australis caterpillars on site is a good excellent start.

 

 

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Lydia Lichen Moth Astura lydia

We inspected the Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras butterfly caterpillars on Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata. I explained that the caterpillars are protected by “Kropotkin” ants – Small Meat Ant Iridomyrmex sp.

We also found a Lydia Lichen Moth Asura lydia with its curious eyelash like antlers.

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Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata

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Other excellent signs of habitat building progress was finding seed on Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcataNative Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea and Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra which will provide food for seed eating birds.

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Ochna Blitz

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After inspecting the Small Bird Habitat progress we moved onto our Ochna Blitz. Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata is a deep rooted invasive garden plant with attractive red and green berries that are eaten by birds then spread into our bush habitat. The objective is to start breaking the weed cycle by collecting, bagging and dumping the seeds then poisoning the plant. Eradicating or at least reducing Ochna in the Reserve will take years but systematic clearing of smaller areas will progressively reduce the spread.

We look forward to partnering with Griffith Mates again in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

https://megoutlook.org/2016/04/24/griffith-mates-lantana-busters/

Yellow Albatross - close - 20 Jan 2015

Yellow Albatross Appias paulina

By: Michael Fox

Finding a new butterfly species in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is special, a small surprise adding colour to your walk in the bush. The Yellow Albatross Appias paulina brings the number of butterfly species found in the Reserve to forty-eight.

Caterpillar food plant for the Yellow Albatross is the attractive Native Holly Alchornea ilicifolia.

Glasswing - 26 Apr 12

Glasswing Acraea andromacha

Glasswing - caterpillar - crop - 5 Jan 2015

Glasswing caterpillar on Spade Flower

 

Our butterfly species information has also been updated with a photo of a Glasswing caterpillar on a Spade Flower Hybanthus stellarioides.

Visit the Flora & Fauna pages to explore the amazing species diversity in the Reserve.

Another amazing critter in our bushland: Mottled Cup Moth caterpillar Doratifera vulnerans.

I have seen capsules on trees and wondered what they are. They look just like a gum nuts in the wrong place on the tree.

Yesterday I was asked to identify two caterpillars from a local bushcare site. My bushcare colleague had a painful encounter with the stinging spines on these otherwise pretty caterpillars so I put on disposable gloves before I opened the container to photograph these strange creatures.

Butterfly expert Helen Schwenchke put me on the right track when she suggested looking up Cup Moths on the Australian caterpillar identification site. These intriguing pink yellow spiky critters are caterpillars of the Mottled Cup Moth Doratifera vulnerans.

Back to the caterpillars for a real surprise. One had carefully stripped a piece of the eucalypt branch and started spinning silky threads: it was building it chrysalis while I watched!

This process took about 70 minutes with the caterpillar curled tight and completely covered in silk thread.

By  morning the chrysalis had hardened, shrunk to less than half the size and created this capsule that looks just like the gum nuts of the eucalypt trees the caterpillars feed on. See the picture at the top: the chrysalis is the one on the right.

Do you want to help clean up the home of these unique creatures? Register for Summit Cleanup on Sunday 6th March.