Thursday, 2 April 2009
I found this caterpillar some months ago, while I was cutting back the black coral pea. I'm no moth expert but I think it's either Anthela addita or A. acuta. (Correction or confirmation welcomed.)
Anthelidae is restricted to Australia and New Guinea. The caterpillars feed on a range of plants, including grasses, wattles and eucalypts, as well as several introduced species. This one chomped happily on Kennedia leaves, which aren't favoured by many other species in my garden.
The hairs are reported to cause irritation on contact. I didn't experiment.
It pupated on 21 January, not long after I accidentally dropped a plastic container on it. I don't know if the two events were related but I was nonetheless wracked with guilt.
My shame continued until this evening, when the moth emerged from its cocoon. In these photos, the wings are still drying. Once they were functional, I released the moth into the back garden. (Or what passes for a back garden, nowadays.)
Adult anthelids have short life spans. Females emerge from the cocoon with abdomens already filled with eggs. Males emerge looking for the females. I hope this individual finds another during its brief existence as an adult. (At least it doesn't seem too badly affected by the dropped container.)