Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser

.....Uraba lugens

The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser is better known for the damage it does to Eucalyptus leaves than for the moth itself. At this time of year I find hundreds if not thousands of these caterpillars up the back of our place.

The caterpillars are gregarious and feed on the surface of the leaf, leaving behind just the veins or skeleton as can be seen in photo #6 below. Each time they shed their skin the old head capsule is retained like a little party hat until you end up with 3 or 4 stacked up high.

If disturbed they will all jump overboard and hang from a thread. That's what enabled me to get the shot of the underside in photo #3.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens

#2 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Carrying two old head capsules which would suggest it is a third instar larva.

#3 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Defense tactic of dropping from a leaf attached by a thread of silk.

#4 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Gregarious in nature

#5 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Various instars

#6 - Leaf damage caused by the The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens


  1. Mosura, you may have chanced upon a way to a fortune. Might have to ditch ethical scruples though. Do you see the striking resemblance to Aboriginal art in your no. 4? 10% to me for the idea? ;-)

  2. Hi Mosura (and Tony).
    Everybody is seeing artistic (and financial opportunities for you, from your photos.
    I have seen "skeletonised leaves" (not nearly as fine as yours #5 image) reproduced by silversmiths.
    Excellent documentation, Mosura.
    No wonder you get so many moths, if you find so many Caterpillars. Must be tough on the trees.

  3. Thanks Tony - :-) I just need some new kit before I set up in business. I tell you what. You buy me a new camera and lenses (of my choice) and you can have 50% of any fortune I make from selling skeletoniser art.

    Thanks Denis - Yes I think I seen that somewhere a while back.

    The trees are doing fine here. The birds will keep the caterpillars in check.

  4. Camera? Lenses???

    Stubs of chewed twigs, stiff and soft leaves as brushes, ship's canvas, and red, yellow and black water-based paint. $50 gets you started. Sell No. 4 Grubstake for $50,000 and we're laughing.

    New name: Mobburra Bynby

  5. Thanks Tony - LOL - Chewed sticks and paint is fine but I'll have to take thousands of photographs first to research the subject and to find inspiration. Of course I'll probably get side tracked researching them and never get around to actually doing a painting. :-) Might be simpler if I just sell you the right's to that photo for .... hmmm, lets say £10,000 :-)

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  7. Thanks Anonymous - for the compliment.