For the past few years I have been observing the strange antics of some peculiar "tube critters". These creatures, which appear to be caterpillars, start out by anchoring themselves to a particular spot on the bark of certain select trees. In this case, the Kuranda Quandong, Elaeocarpusbancroftii. As they develop, the case lengths to an ultimate length of about 80 mm. They operate in the radius dictated by their anchor and seem to be feeding on bark. After several months in the same spot, the surface of the tree does not seem to have changed in appearance at all. Selected trees bare 20 of these creatures within a couple of metres of the ground.
The case consists of phrass-bits and pieces of the bark and faecal matter. When Murray Upton visited last year we observed these creatures feeding an moving about on their tethers. At Thanksgiving we captured a few and kept them in humid containers but no adults eventuated. Now the tubes are disappearing, probably being broken up by the weather and ants which were seen around them months ago but that cause no harm. So we must wait till next year to attempt to see what these insects are. We think they are case moths, family Psychidae, but can't be certain until we see an adult.
The other mystery involves white creatures on this patch of lichen. Look carefully and you can see several elongate lumps!
Each one has an amorphous shape. As a group, they "twitched" from time to time and they moved from place to place but for weeks stayed on the single patch of lichen. Other trees and patches were searched but no other sightings were recorded.
Then recently the group disappeared. I though the resident Boyd's Forest Dragon may have either eaten them or disturbed the group when he scuttled up the tree. Then one appeared on the light sheet in an apparent attempt to pupate. It is now in a container and we await the emergence of this odd insect.
They may be geometrid loopers that cover themselves with lichen. They inch along in the pattern of geometrid caterpillars but I've never heard of a geometrid that covers itself with its host plant.
David and family moved to Kuranda, Queensland in 2002, following retirement from CSIRO Canberra, Australia. David, Barbara and an assortment of wildlife live in a rainforest setting. It is their first experience living in the tropics.
David's major interest is Entomology. He continues research in the Orthopteroid insects and is keenly interested in the biology of the rainforest.
This blog is a narrative of observations made in and around Kuranda.