By: Michael Fox

I’m lucky to be able to get my exercise exploring the wildlife of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis are good at staying home even if they are not into social isolation. Glider families typically occupy a number of different nest boxes going out at night and sleeping during the day.

White Tangle ~ Callopistria maillardi - Fox Gully Bushcare - 24 Mar 2020

White Tangle moth caterpillar


Butterfly and moth caterpillars are typically selective feeders able to digest only a very limited range of plant species.

So I was interested to find the White Tangle moth caterpillar Callopistria maillardi which feeds on ferns like the invasive garden escapee: Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

Transverse Moth - Xanthodes transversa - caterpillar 2 - 29 Mar 2020

Transverse Moth caterpillar


Moths often have to most interesting and colourful caterpillars like this Transverse Moth Xanthodes transversa caterpillar I found feeding on the Native Hibiscus Hibiscus heterophyllus planted by a National Tree Day team.










There are some impressive adult moths Erebus Moth Erebus terminitincta  with its 100mm wing span and owl like eyes on the wings.









Domino Coukoo Bee - Thyreus lugubris 2 - 1 April 2020

Domino Coukoo Bee


I also found a new solitary native bee to add to the species list for the Reserve. The well named Domino Coukoo Bee Thyreus lugubris means we have now identified ten species of solitary native bees in the Reserve.


Domino Coukoo Bee - Thyreus lugubris 3 - 1 April 2020

Cute white furry whiskers












Paperbark Sawfly - Lophyrotoma zonalis 2 - 8 April 2020

Paperbark Sawfly


This Paperbark Sawfly Lophyrotoma zonalis is another new species identified in the Reserve. Adult Sawflies are not often seen as they live only one to two weeks in which time they do not feed but mate and lay their eggs on leaves of Melaleuca species.



Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike - Coracina novaehollandiae - 17 Mar 2020 lr

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike



The handsome Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae is another addition to the species list.








Finally I found this cute Koala Phascolarctos cinereus watching us install a Koala Drinker on Tallowwood Eucalyptus microcorys.

A lot of walkers are getting their exercise in the Reserve at the moment. Map of walking tracks.

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.


Large Anthelid Moth plumose antennae



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




Close-up showing antennae hairs




“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.




By: Michael Fox


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.


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.




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.



Sickle Leaved Wattle Acacia falcata


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.


Ochna Blitz


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.



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.