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Next time, just a tickle

March 11, 2021

One thing I have noticed on my property is that Black Wattles (Acacia mearnsii) germinate as a group i.e. the seedlings all spring up at the same time. This obviously is a result of the conditions being right but it doesn’t happen every year. So I have clumps of wattles of different heights all growing and subsequently dying together.

Recently a grove has ‘taken off’ next to the dam. All the saplings had a dense head of foliage apart from one. It was denuded of leaves. Closer examination of the tree revealed half a dozen large caterpillars (pictured below) contentedly grazing on the foliage. My interest in caterpillars is directly proportional to how big they are. I therefore have found in the past Emperor Gum Moth (Opodiphthera eucalypti) caterpillars fascinating and these new examples were no exception.

The visitors were Golden Notodontid Moth caterpillars (Neola semiaurata). One would have that thought with all the decorations this caterpillar would have been easy to identify but for me it wasn’t. There are MANY species of moths. So I had to resort to a Facebook moth identification page (the wonders of social media!).

As I tend to have a non-disturbance policy when photographing fauna what I didn’t realise is that when disturbed the caterpillar rears its head back and a bright red protuberance (called an osmeterium) erupts from its throat. In addition, normally hidden under flaps of skin near the tail are bright blue eye-spots which the caterpillar displays when bothered. Sounds very photogenic.

I’m watching out for this caterpillar next year. I might give it a little tickle.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    March 12, 2021 10:17 am

    Nature is amazing! next time get the photo! great story Ron 🙂

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