If you have been out in the bush lately and come out with stinging welts – this may be the culprit!
These Cup moth larvae hatched in the Holbrook district a month or two a go and have been busy communally feasting on Eucalyptus leaves. I think these are the “Black Slug Cup moth” (Doratifera casta ) that are sometimes a pest in Eucalypt plantations, but come and go with the seasons. They have tufts of hair on them that come off on contact and can irritate the skin. My kids have been complaining abut mysterious ‘stingers’ in the bushes lately and these guys are the culprits!
After they are fully grown, the individual Caterpillars leave the foodplant and walk up to 20 metres looking for a suitable crevice or piece of leaf litter in which to pupate. I have noticed them moving around the place, including one on our outdoor dunny seat the other day – could’ve had interesting consequences if I hadn’t seen it first!
The cocoon is a cup-like structure usually attached to a stem or leaf and they will overwinter and hatch in the spring. The adult moth is a pretty non-descript (sure some keen Lepidoptera enthusiasts will disagree with that!) brown moth up to 50mm. I’ll look forward to seeing if I can recognise them in the Spring.
An entomologists once challenged me to find a ‘perfect’ eucalypt leaf – its a very difficult task, such is the diversity of animals and insects that have evolved with Eucalypts and are dependent on them for food and shelter. Go and have a try!