Monday, 28 March 2011

End of the procession

This is tail-end Charlie and a couple of it's mates, at the end of a procession that I came across today as it was heading for another food tree. These characters are the larvae of the Bag-shelter moth Ochnoaster lunifer and their common name, processionary caterpillars, derives from their method of moving from one food tree to the next in a long line, nose to tail. This line was about 6 unbroken metres and as the caterpillars are around 40to50mm long there were about 140 individuals in the procession. They favour a number of  wattle species, of which we have a few as part of our natural bush areas, as their food source . This procession has the ability to strip a small wattle shrub (say 2m) in just one night. On larger trees they work at night then spend the day at the base of the tree all huddled together in a spun web that looks like an upturned bag surrounding the trunk, then return to the foliage the next night and so on until they have eaten all the leaves. As a very hairy caterpillar they are not one to handle, as the hairs can cause severe reactions in some people and an irritation to most

1 comment:

  1. That is a really interesting post, Ian - what fascinating caterpillars. Thanks so much for sharing. Caroline