Strange caterpillar on Lemon-scented gum tree; SE Qld
Dear Daniel (I think that’s your name)
We found this caterpillar on a lemon-scented gum tree on our property this morning; thought it was a growth on the trunk until we looked closer and could actually see its legs. It seems to have attached itself onto the trunk and hasn’t moved for over two hours. Questions are: 1. What is it? 2. Is it damaging the tree (which is only a young sapling)? 3. Should we leave it alone or remove it? I did look on your website but my computer is soooo slow I couldn’t open all the info you had on caterpillars. Hopefully this one is new to you so that I’m not wasting your time. My caterpillar (whatever it is) is on the move – but taken 24 hours to move about 4 inches. It is itself about 4 inches in length. I’m looking forward to finding out what it is and have e-mailed all the people I think may have an idea of what it is, but so far no gel. Hope you can shed some light on what is probably a very common caterpillar. Many thanks
(02/03/2008) Strange caterpillar on Lemon-scented gum tree; SE Qld
Dear Daniel and Lisa?
So sorry – didn’t mention that my caterpillar is on our property in Warwick, South East Queensland, Australia. I’ve lived here for nearly three years and am amazed at how many bugs there are! I’m having fun looking at your site, even if you don’t have time to answer my query. You might be interested to know that I found it by accident; all I did was type in “identify caterpillar Australia” and up popped your very informative and ‘pretty’ page. Hope I’m not being a pest e-mailing you yet again.
Heather from Warwick, Queensland
We have spent a goodly amount of time trying to identify your fascinating caterpillar, but to no avail. We suspect it is in the superfamily Noctuoidea, family Noctuidae, the Owlet Moths or the or an Underwing Moth in the subfamily Catocolinae (family Erebidae). There are some taxonomical errors on the Caterpillars of Australian Moths website we tried searching. An American underwing caterpillar posted on BugGuide shares many similarities.
Breaking News: As we struggled with this posting, and trying to create all the links, we believe we have identified this caterpillar as a Guava Moth, Ophiusa disjungens, based on photos posted to the Geocities website. Though many caterpillars in the Catocalinae group look similar, gum is listed as a food plant of the Guava Moth Caterpillar
Thank you for your prompt reply to my query (see below). However, I also received a reply from Don Herbison-Evans (whose website I found on your site, thank you) and he thinks it is Entometa fervens. I had a look on the link, http://www.usyd.edu.au/museums/larvae/lasi/fervens.html and, sure enough, it is almost identical to my visitor. I took a video of the caterpillar last night and it had become very active indeed – I may have a new hobby!
Thanks for the update. We stand corrected.