White Stemmed Gum Moth Caterpillar: It Stings!!!!

caterpillar freakazoid
we found a caterpillar yesterday in our driveway that is just under 8 inches long about 18cm! we dont know what kind it is. its freaky looking and is furry and spiky. can u help us out. we live in an urban area in north west NSW of australia. we dont think its a native.
Angela Ritter NSW Australia

Hi Angela,
The White Stemmed Gum Moth Caterpillar, Chelepteryx collesi, is a native species that we located on the Australian Caterpillars website. It is in the family ANTHELIDAE that is confined to Australia and New Zealand. The website explains that: “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.” It is also noted that: “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.”

2 thoughts on “White Stemmed Gum Moth Caterpillar: It Stings!!!!”

  1. Hi, Thanks for this page. In Warrandyte, Vic we found one 6″ long on a fence post under our Queensland Box Tree. It was identified by the president of our local Friends of the Warrandyte State Park. http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/anth/collesi.html For a week it wandered up & down the treated pine post and along the metal frame of the gate. It never went to the tree trunk just a metre away. At one point it seemed to be starting to spin a cocoon on the top of the post with a dead leaf. Eventually it kinda ‘pooped out’ colours faded & lay on the ground among leaf litter, hardly moving at all. When touched with a leaf it just curled up. We looked up details about the QLD Box tree and then cut lots of fresh twigs with leaves & put them & the caterpillar in a large shoe box with holes for air. It seems revived & now for a few days has been eating leaves & moving around different places in the box e.g.- upside down on a leaf, then nestled in a corner under leaves. Now after reading more, we’re thinking we should put a large-ish piece of bark in the box too & maybe it will spin a cocoon there. Every once & a while we’ve sprayed a little water on leaves @ one end of the box & also put the box outside when it was more warm & dry out there. Too many kids & dogs around to put it back out on the tree. Any suggestions for further nurturing in the shoe box? Thanks


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