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A case of …

February 4, 2014

Faggot Case MothIt’s somewhat of a mystery how this cocoon came to be attached to our kitchen window. It belongs to a Faggot Case Moth (Clania ignobilis), which normally feeds on the foliage of species of Eucalyptus, Callitris or Pinus. We didn’t know this at the time and carefully relocated it onto a branch of a nearby sheoak tree, where it seemed well camouflaged, then returned to sit on the veranda with a refreshing drink. A short time later we noticed a Grey Butcherbird fly into the sheoak and out again. We thought we had better check on the case moth – no caterpillar, no case, neither on the branch nor on the ground ! It seems the butcherbird had taken the lot. So our well intentioned relocation did the insect no favours at all !

Case moth on sheoak

Case moth on sheoak


The Faggot Case Moth can be identified by its case having one stick noticeably longer than the rest in its silk and twig construction – faggot meaning “a bundle of sticks bound together”. The larva only extends its thick-skinned head and thorax out of the case to feed and travel, leaving its soft abdomen in the protective case. After pupation the wingless females remain in the case, whereas the males emerge as moths with translucent grey wings spanning about 3cm.
Case moth on window

Faggot Case Moth on window


 
 
 
 
 
 
The assumed case-snatcher was an immature butcherbird identified by its brown and fawn plumage. It will eventually develop the black, white and grey adult plumage of the bird picture below right.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Young Grey Butcherbird

Young Grey Butcherbird


Adult Grey Butcherbird

Adult Grey Butcherbird

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Another mystery is: if the female never leaves the case, how do the males and females ever get together for breeding – and who builds the case ? – any answers out there ?]

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