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Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

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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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We found this Striped Hawk Moth  (Hyles livornicoides) on our verandah one  morning, (stunned from flying into a lighted window the previous night).  The amazing markings, as well as   the colours  of some of our moths and other insects never ceases to amaze me, plus this guy (or gal)  was also very furry, quite spectacular!  I think we get so taken up with our mammals, birds and reptiles,  that the other equally important, but not so obvious creatures tend to get overlooked.  *There are about 22,000 species of Australian moths, of which only half have been described so far.* (**Source: CSIRO Entomology)  You can therefore imagine how much time I spent Googling before I finally identified ‘our’ moth (which I am pleased to report recovered after a while and flew off.)  

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Fiddler Beetle (Eupoecilia australasiae)

We found this eye-catching beetle in our garden, and were both amazed at the vividness of its colours.  It was so shiny too, and looked just like it had had a duco spray job!  It was not a co-operative creature to photograph, as it kept moving non-stop, so I ended up having to take lots of photos to get one good clear one!  After this was accomplished we returned it to the garden.  I discovered when identifying it, that it gets its name from the green markings, which look like the outline of a fiddle (violin).

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Green Blotched Moth (Noctuidae cosmodes elegans)

I found this moth one morning on our hall wall next to the night light. When I gathered it up in my cupped hand to put it outside (it was only 15mm long), instead of fluttering around like moths usually do, it just sat on my hand. So, I was able to place it in a good light on the verandah and take some pics of a live moth for a change, instead of the usual dead ones! It was one very co-operative moth and stayed put until I had finished taking my pics, when it then flew off, none the worse for its experience. I had never seen a moth like this before, and thought that maybe I had been lucky enough to find a rare one – but no, upon identification I discovered it is found throughout most of Australia. Oh well, maybe next time?!

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‘Nature’s Palette’ – a lorikeet love story!

Rainbow & Scaly. Love at first sight?

I am thrilled to be able to bring to you ‘Nature’s Palette’, a written and photographic record by Trixie Benbrook of her ‘once in a lifetime’ experience observing the behaviour of lorikeets and the development of their young.

Trixie is a like-minded environmentalist and wildlife carer, who also enjoys photography – which in the case of ‘Nature’s Palette’ proved not only enjoyable but highly challenging! 

I thank Trixie very much for her mammoth effort in producing ‘Nature’s Palette’, and for allowing me to use it on my site.

(Access ‘Nature’s Palette” by clicking on the page link in the right-hand side bar).

PS. Don’t forget to also have a look at ‘The Agony & the Ecstasy’. This is Trixie’s behind the scenes look at producing ‘Nature’s Palette’, which reveals not only persistence and dedication, but also that Trixie has a great sense of humour (which I might add, is an essential ingredient in being a wildlife carer!)

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