These great photos of a female Ochrogaster lunifer (Bag-shelter moth) of the ground-nesting form have been sent in by Abigail D. The shots were taken on 25th October at Mudgeeraba QLD. Note the white scales on the rear of the moth’s abdomen. As she is laying her eggs at the base of a wattle tree, the female covers the eggs with these scales to protect them. The scales can cause itching and a rash.
Eggs have hatched and the processionary caterpillars are now at their second or third stage (instar). These stages feed during the day on their host tree so you may see them especially in the morning. Later stages feed at night.
Adult Bag-shelter moths (Ochrogaster lunifer) have been emerging from pupae during October and egg masses are starting to appear in areas where the moth is prevalent. There is 5 – 6 week window from egg lay to when the 2nd stage (instar) caterpillars start feeding in the tree canopy. Although only about half of the egg masses laid by female moths develop into caterpillar nests, this is a good time to remove any egg masses seen on properties that have the potential to cause problems later in the season. When removing egg masses observe all safety procautions including avoiding contact with skin and eyes, avoid breathing in the moth scales covering the eggs, do not remove in windy weather, and hypersensitive individuals should not attempt removal.
New images from the 2015/2016 caterpillar season are being added to this site from June 2016.