Wild Windellama

by Paul Alessi

August 2006

Tree Scribbles

We've all seen scribbles on gum trees but have you ever really
looked at them closely to see what they are all about ?

I recently spent a few hours in the bush with
retired CSIRO entomologist Max Day who is currently
studying the insects that make these scribbles and he said that
very little is known about Eucalyptus bark, how and why each species
sheds it's bark, the insects that inhabit Eucalyptus bark
and in particular the insects that make tree scribbles.

Tree scribbles tell the story of the larvae stage of a very small moth, on
Scribbly Gum (Eucalyptus rossii) in Windellama they are most
likely made by either the Scribbly Gum Moth (Ogmograptis scribula) described by Meyrick in 1935
or a second species that is yet to be named.

The starting point of the scribble is where an egg under the bark
hatches, each change of direction indicates a moulting point in the
larvae's life and the scribble line usually gets thicker at each moult
as the creature grows larger. Eventually the larvae reaches a
point in it's travels and for reasons best known to itself does a
U-Turn travelling back down it's own scribble making a double line
before dropping out of the tree to pupate in the leaf litter. 

After hatching from this stage it emerges as a very small moth 
and flies away from the leaf litter to look for a mate, it's life as a moth is
only a few days and successful females will then lay their eggs on bark
where the whole life cycle can be repeated.

More on Black and White Possums
After last months article on Black and White Possums I received a phone
call from someone who had seen possums like these in the 1970's in
bush at Windellama, his description was similar to the others and a key
feature in all the sightings were that the possums had a "monkey like tail"
and did not resemble Ring-Tail Possums or Greater Gliders.

Seen last month in the Spa Road area was a large buck deer that soared
over a barbed wire fence with ease, I saw two Does in the same place last year
and others only a few kilometres from Windellama Hall a few years ago.
It's hard to say if they are legitimate escapees or were introduced by hunters
but if you've lost any deer please give me a ring. Wild deer have been well
known in the Tarago Hills for years but not to my knowledge in Windellama before.

Copyright Paul Alessi 2006