During a recent survey of the Anglesea rifle range, Christine and Peter Forster, when approaching a large and healthy mistletoe, noticed several unusual web structures and discovered some interesting nests of gregarious caterpillar larvae just starting to change and pupate on their silk-lined communal webs.
Mistletoe with two communal webs
These are the larvae of one of the Southern Jezabel butterfly species, the Imperial White, Delias harpalyce. The Imperial White’s caterpillars feed almost exclusively on the local mistletoe plants, where they are found in their communal groups. The larvae hatch out, feed and then build their webs in communal groups. Often the adult butterflies can hatch out, mate and lay their eggs within the same mistletoe plant, provided it maintains healthy growth.
After the larvae have built their silk web platform, they shed their prickly caterpillar skin within one day and change to their first-stage pupae.
The larvae making silk web
After shedding skin
Their pupae have unique hooks along their back and nose to help secure them onto the silk webs where they hang for their two-month metamorphosis and typically hatch out in spring.
Detail of pupae hooks
The adult female Imperial White butterfly
After the recent opening of the Anglesea River mouth, a few of the fish-eating birds were seen feeding on the exposed shallow river flats on schools of Galaxiids and Estuarine Bream migrating back to the ocean. The birds seen on the first day were Caspian Terns, Hydroprogne caspia, in their breeding plumage. These are one of the larger terns, compared to the Crested Terns found on Point Roadknight.
Adult Caspian Terns on mud flats
Graceful flight of Caspian Tern
Juvenile Caspian Tern feeding
A couple of the Great Cormorants, Phalacrocorax carbo, were also hunting in the shallows near the river mouth.
This month, Deborah Penrose had observed much digging in her garden on Eagle Rock Pde. After setting up her friend’s ($50) Aldi – SIGNIFY wildlife camera, she was able to capture the culprit—a Long-nosed Bandicoot, Perameles nasuta, which had been digging numerous holes, some quite deep.
Night camera showing Long-nosed Bandicoot in garden
Unfortunately, the camera has also captured pictures of a fox visiting the garden, but to date the bandicoot has continued to dig further holes!
Angair’s archival photo of Long-nosed Bandicoot