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Nature won’t be denied

February 6, 2017

Senecios are a species of daisy found world-wide and are one of the major understorey plants on our bush block. Locally it is known as ‘fireweed’ and as evidenced after the 2009 fires swept through our place it is one of the first colonising groups after a fire.

When we first purchased our block, as wannabe conservationists, we decided that one of our goals was to remove by hand, as far as practically possible, all weeds from the 29 acres of bush. Ivy, cotoneaster, blackberry and thistles were quickly put to the sword. For reasons now lost in the mists of time we incorrectly identified the senecios, particularly Senecio quadridentatus (Cotton Fireweed) as weeds and proceeded to remove them with much gusto. Luckily Mother Nature would not be denied and the next season the Cotton Fireweed was back in the same abundance (by which time we had learned what the plant was and left it alone).

senecio-moth-nyctemera-amicus1-dscn2909senecio-moth-nyctemera-amicus-1-dscn2494And lucky that was. Cotton Fireweed is the food source of a beautiful and particularly hairy caterpillar of the moth unsurprisingly known as the Senecio Moth (Nyctemera amicus), pictured above. As the name suggests the larvae feed on various species of senecio. This moth is one of the insects captured pictorially by naturalists on the First Fleet. The adult insect (pictured left) is also known as the Tiger Moth because of the orange and black striped body, (not seen in the photo).

Luckily there are still fireweeds on the block for it to enjoy.

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