Saturday, 7 September 2013

Saunder's Case Moth

One morning at the swimming pool in Australia in December last year I noticed a movement on the lawn. It took me a few seconds to take in what I was seeing, but finally I realised I was looking at an absolutely humungeous case moth caterpillar, munching its way in a fairly lively manner across the lawn. Luckily, I had my camera with me, so despite Simon hissing at me not to do anything weird, I photographed it. I wasn't the only one to notice it either -- a group of young women watched it for a while too. I was very pleased to note that there was no screeching or hysterionics, just a 'wow! look at that! it's huge!!' sort of interest.

Once I got back to France I did an internet search to see if I could identify it. Turned out to be easy, thanks to the Museum Victoria 'ask the experts' page. I have a real soft spot for this museum. As a child I remember having to visit the orthodontist a number of times in Melbourne, and my parents took the opportunity to include a visit to the Museum when we made the 100 mile trek to the Big Smoke. The great Australian racehorse Phar Lap, cruelly poisoned when he took on the Americans, is the star attraction in the museum.

Saunder's Case Moth is a common species, with a very large caterpillar. The case, which is made by the caterpillar out of silk it manufactures and debris it picks up, can be 15 cm long. The adult male moth is as striking as the caterpillar. The caterpillars eat a wide range of plants and are highly mobile.
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Ile de Ré Reflections: A typical salt marsh view.

5 comments:

  1. Wowzer!!
    Makes a bagworm look particularly dull!!
    Especially the adult... he looks as though he'd been made out of pipe cleaners!!
    As you link to a pic of the male only.. is the female caseworm like the female Bagworm, and stays in the case?

    Ile de Ré Reflection...
    looks like Burnham Overy Staithe!! Just missing the odd yatch!

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  2. Très intéressante chenille, surtout par sa taille. J'en ai rencontrée une ou deux qui a le même mode de vie, bien sûr bien plus petite , mais je ne me suis pas encore lancée sur leur identification!

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  3. For yatch...
    please read yot...
    sorry...yacht...
    obviously got me fingles muddles this morning...
    wasn't the only thing!!

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  4. Tim: the female is wingless and remains in the case/bag.

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  5. neat creature. like a caddisfly larvae.

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