What be this dragon?

Pommy bastard 7 January 2011 20

monster caterpillar

I’ve seen some weird and wonderful creatures since I’ve been living here in Aus, (human and animal). But in the garden today I came across this monster, which really takes the cake, biscuit the whole sweet trolley in fact! It’s some sort of caterpillar on steroids and acid.

It was about 5 inches long and thicker than my thumb.

Knowing the way of Australian creatures I thought it may be poisonous. I did try to get Mrs. Bastard to touch it to find out, but she declined. Truth be told, it was truly beautiful, and had me gamboling around the garden like an excited child.

So, can anyone enlighten me as to what it is? Many thanks in advance, Pommy Bastard.

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20 Responses to What be this dragon?
s-s-a s-s-a 6:43 pm 06 Jan 12

Interesting to see the date on this, because we just found one of these inching its way across concrete in our carport. I’ve seen them a few times before, but never on the move. It was fascinating to watch!

I used a large piece of bark to relocate the monster to under the gum tree on our nature strip.

jodizzle jodizzle 6:17 am 08 Jan 11

Blegh, too big for my liking! Bugs are best unseen…

breda breda 7:25 pm 07 Jan 11

s-s-a said:

Breda #10 its not a Sawfly larva aka “Spitfire” which is the swarming leaf-eating and much smaller grub that you are referring to from Sydney. My dad used to rid the trees in our yard of spitfire colonies with a flaming petrol-soaked rag on the end of a long stick.
Thanks, s-s-a, you are right. The type of sawfly larvae we had locally was very similar in colouring to the beastie in PB’s photo, and was covered in little spikes. Probably because I was a child at the time, they did seem huge, but Professor Google tells me they were only about half to two thirds the size of PB’s monster.

I had forgotten they were called spitfires, but yes, they did spit an irritating liquid when annoyed. Not that anyone in their right mind would annoy a colony of a few hundred writhing, spiky, spitting grubs! I had heard of people tying hessian bags soaked in petrol over them and setting them alight, but it seems a bit OTT. We just left them well alone.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 3:38 pm 07 Jan 11

It’s a Labor Advisor (Slimius Bullshittus), in the larval stage of maturity.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 2:38 pm 07 Jan 11

No, no, no. It is a baby reptoid

s-s-a s-s-a 2:37 pm 07 Jan 11

Breda #10 its not a Sawfly larva aka “Spitfire” which is the swarming leaf-eating and much smaller grub that you are referring to from Sydney. My dad used to rid the trees in our yard of spitfire colonies with a flaming petrol-soaked rag on the end of a long stick.

s-s-a s-s-a 2:29 pm 07 Jan 11

Thanks PB and Rioters! Have seen one of these twice in the last 10y, both times near the massive gum on our neighbour’s nature strip. Most recent time was just before Xmas and I took a pic in anticipation of asking CSIRO… should have asked you lot!

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 1:51 pm 07 Jan 11

I take it that the moth will emerge with an anti-collision beacon and nav lights…?

Thumper Thumper 11:05 am 07 Jan 11

We used to call them furry grubs when I was a kid.

watto23 watto23 10:39 am 07 Jan 11

The real answer is thats a baby one. They grow to be 12″ long and as thick as your arm 🙂

breda breda 10:37 am 07 Jan 11

Yeah, as above. I’ve never seen one in Canberra, but they are very common around Sydney. In fact, they used to gather in swarms, all on top of each other, in gum trees around where I grew up – an impressively scary sight. At night they would crawl up the tree and strip the leaves. And agree, the spines are youchee. The cocoons are easily identifiable, because they are large, greyish white and covered with the spines, which protrude through the casing. Very effective protection for the pupa.

switch switch 10:22 am 07 Jan 11

A grub of Gunghetto?

Seriously, used to these all over my school playground as a child, many years ago, and learnt the hard way not to touch them. But I haven’t seen one for decades. Does this sighting mean they are making a comeback?

pink little birdie pink little birdie 10:17 am 07 Jan 11

remember when all the kids touched them in Primary school? At my school kids touched them all the time and had to go to the first aid room. It got to the point that the teachers announced to everyone regularly not to touch them!!

but they are cute!!!

Dylan144 Dylan144 9:52 am 07 Jan 11

Its not a caterpillar, its the spawn of satan! kill it before it kills you!

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 9:39 am 07 Jan 11

You lot… talk about party poopers! The correct response a la RiotACT is to say that they are a local delicacy, known for thousands of years by the aboriginal population as the Furry Southern White Striped Witchetty Grub, are extremely palateable and are a well-known aphrodisiac.

Too late now though.

Thumper Thumper 9:33 am 07 Jan 11

Don’t touch him, he’ll prickle you, and the pain can be uncomfortable, if not substantial.

PURSUTE PURSUTE 9:26 am 07 Jan 11

Those guys used to be quite common here. I don’t think they are poisonous as such, however they have thousands of tiny little spines that are sharp enough to go through skin, so if you handle them you end up with really itchy hands.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 9:21 am 07 Jan 11

White-Stemed Gum Moth (Chelepteryx collesi)

What to do if you find one:
Don’t pick it up, let them grow into moths.
If picked up (normaly by children), the hairs will embed and cause fairly serious pain, but should not be removed. It will go away in about an hour.

Clinical effects of exposure to the White-stemmed gum moth (Chelepteryx collesi). Emergency Medicine Australasia, 2004
Balit CR, Geary MJ, Russell RC, Isbister GK, NSW Poisons Information Centre, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Australia.

Ozi Ozi 9:18 am 07 Jan 11

That is huge! Definitely gambol worthy.

thewindycity thewindycity 9:13 am 07 Jan 11

I happened across one of these monsters the other day. I think it is the caterpillar of a white-stemmed gum moth: http://www.csiro.au/resources/white-stemmed-gum-moths.html

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