Monday, February 13, 2012

Leaf Lovers

A couple of leaf-eating insects have caught our eye over recent days. A very hairy caterpillar, found feeding on Cadagi (Corymbia torreliana) was given to us for identification. It is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar from the family Lymantriidae. These caterpillars are covered in hairs that can cause irritation for other animals that come into contact with them. Many species in this group have 4 dense vertical tufts of hair on their backs. These tufts are present with this specimen, but less distinct due to the abundance of other hairs.

The hairless head capsule of the caterpillar stands out in contrast to the body.

The caterpillar from above whilst feeding.

Caterpillars are feeding machines, packing as much food in as quickly as possible. This species seems to favour Cadagi (Corymbia torreliana).

The other striking leaf-eating insect we found was a green Extatosoma tiaratum. These are relatively common, but due to their camouflage are seldom seen. They feed on a wide variety of plants and most adults are various shades of brown. We have worked with this species in captivity for many years and their choice of food plant certainly does affect their colour. We found this bright yellow-green specimen feeding on Native Mulberry (Pipturus argenteus).

The adult yellow-green Extatosoma tiaratum

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