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Posts Tagged ‘Caterpillars’

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There are many different species of Cup Moths, and the closest ID I can find for ‘my’ caterpillar is the ‘Four Spot Cup Moth Caterpillar.  You will notice four ‘bow shaped’ tubercles behind its head (indicated by the red arrow) which (I found out after identification!) contain venemous spines. The venom doesn’t appear to be dangerous – according to the Sydney University’s Department of Medical Entomology (http://medent.usyd.edu.au/fact/caterpillars.htm) – ‘Patients usually develop wheals and widespread rashes which can be accompanied by a burning sensation.’   Thankfully I didn’t pick it up with bare hands!

The following information is sourced from the Queensland Museum – http://www.qm.qld.gov.au
Cup Moths (Family Limacodidae) – the colourful, sluglike larvae of cup moths can deliver a painful sting and are among the few venomous Australian caterpillars. They usually have many short spines, either scattered over the body, or in dense, expandable clusters on tubercles. Each spine is hollow and filled with venom produced by a gland at the base. On contact with skin the tip of the spines break as they penetrate the skin, injecting the venom.
Sir Joseph Banks was the first to record cup moth caterpillars in Australia, during Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Australia in 1770. He was stung by them in the mangroves at Bustard Bay, and described them as ‘wrathful militia’.
Cup moths get their common name from the tough cocoons spun by the caterpillars when they pupate. These are often attached to the twigs of eucalypts. The adult moth emerges from the cocoon by pushing out a circular cap. The now empty cocoon closely resembles a eucalypt ‘gumnut’.
There are numerous Australian cup moth species whose caterpillars feed on a wide range of plants including eucalypts, paperbarks, wattles, guava and apricot trees and mangroves.

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Other names:  Orchard Butterfly Caterpillar, Large Citrus Butterfly Caterpillar.

If disturbed this caterpillar will reveal a red-orange “tentacle” (known as the osmeterium) from behind its head which emits a foul smell to deter predators.

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