Sunday, 5 November 2006

A moth ruins

I found this moth on my curtains the other morning. Wanting to give it a chance, I caught it in a jar and put it aside for release that night. While captive, the moth laid a batch of eggs so green I thought they might be fluorescent. Now I was responsible not only for the welfare of the moth but of her scores of offspring as well.

I released her late in the afternoon. But what about those bloody eggs? I didn't know what sort of moth it was—entomologists have described more than 10,000 species from Australia and they all look the same. (The moths, not the entomologists.) So I didn't have much chance of identifying this mid-sized, nondescript, unassuming sort of moth. Well ... maybe it was a geometrid. Then again, maybe not.

Then I forgot about the candy-green eggs for a few days. When I looked again, they'd all turned white. Were they mouldy? I opened the lid to check and about a hundred tiny caterpillars inched out. Yep, the were geometrids. Their looping head-and-tail movement was characteristic. And the poor little devils must have been starving.

I took a punt and tipped them onto the most productive Proteaceae in the garden, a small firewheel tree (Stenocarpus sinuatus). It was all I could think of doing. Now the leaves are looking mighty ragged. You just can't win, can you?


amegilla said...

Well done you, for not forgetting about them entirely as I have to confess to doing with that fine Grevillea moth.
For months.

How lucky can you be that it was a female. I'm off to see who I can catch. I've never done that with a Geometrid.

amegilla said...

And another thing - very nice look... curtains that look like bark. (your photo is your curtains, right?)

Could be the next big new trend, and the moths would appreciate it.

Snail said...

Ahem! Yes, they're very ... er ... organic, aren't they?

David Nelson said...

Beautiful eggs there! I once had a similar thing happen (except I actually raised the moths from larvae) and then parasitoid wasps found the eggs!

Snail said...

That's simultaneously a bummer and very interesting, David. Did you get pics? (Is that a silly question?)


I admire your efforts to save the little caterpillars.

Snail said...

I felt guilty. But now I've got the same problem with a bunch of jumping spider eggs. At least they're not so fussy about their diet,

When will I learn?