Many people have been asking what has happened to the eucalypts in the area. The defoliation is being caused by the larvae of a Cup Moth, of which there are a number of species.

Cup moth larva

J.A.Leach in ‘Australian Nature Studies’ (1922) states ‘The Cup Moths, so called from the smooth cup-like cocoons, are destructive at times to eucalypts.  The trees, stripped of leaves, look as if a bush fire had passed through.  A fresh growth of leaves may be met by a second brood of this forest pest.  Tree-creepers fortunately find many cocoons in crevices of the bark, though many under raised pieces escape these birds.’

Other information states that Caterpillars are usually present in small numbers but sporadic outbreaks may cause severe damage with trees completely defoliated over a large area. The larvae are the damaging stage with the young insects skeletonising the leaves while older caterpillars eat the entire leaf, leaving only the midrib. However, unless attacks occur over 3-4 successive years the trees usually recover. Cup Moth caterpillars are very susceptible to viral diseases that usually occur when weather conditions are warm and humid.

The spines of the caterpillar can cause a sting if they come in contact with bare skin.

We will hope that the White-throated Tree-creeper has a good breeding season.

Margaret MacDonald

 

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