Batwing Gum Moth Caterpillar from Australia

Subject: Large moth caterpillar in Australia
Location: Canberra, Australia
January 22, 2015 4:05 am
Hi, we found this on the side of our house about a year ago (5th January 2014) in Canberra, Australia. It was a huge caterpillar, about 5″ (15cm) long, for size reference you can see standard house bricks it’s resting on.
Signature: Dug

Batwing Gum Moth Caterpilar
Batwing Gum Moth Caterpilar

Hi Dug,
We believe we have correctly identified your Caterpillar as a White Stemmed Gum Moth Caterpillar or Batwing Gum Moth Caterpillar,
Chelepteryx collesi, in the family Anthelidae thanks to the Butterfly House website where it states:  “This Caterpillar is a great hazard to people climbing Gum trees. Scattered over its skin are tufts of long stiff reddish hairs, which are strong enough to penetrate human skin. When they do, they are very painful, and difficult to remove because they are barbed and brittle. if one should lodge in the eye, it can cause serious sight problems.” The site also notes:  “It is also one of the largest Caterpillars in Australia, growing in length to about 12 cms. Some trees where they may be found most years in Leichhardt are known by local school-children as ‘sausage trees’ because the Caterpillars look from the ground like sausages growing in the trees.”  According to Zip Code Zoo:  “Anthelidae is a family of Australian lappet moths in the Lepidoptera order. It was previously included in the Lasiocampoidea superfamily, but a recent study resulted in reincluding the family in the superfamily Bombycoidea.”

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