Tiny detail in photo of native eucalyptus leaves is baffling Aussies

A raised section on the leaves outlined by a small, dotted pattern has left many scratching their heads.

Australia is filled with many wonders. One of them it seems is a photo of four eucalyptus leaves lined up side by side which was recently shared online by an inquisitive Aussie.

"What makes these," the curious nature enthusiast posted in an amateur entomology Facebook group this week, drawing attention to a tiny detail on each of the native leaves. And while easy to miss, a closer look reveals a raised section on the leaves outlined by a small, dotted pattern.

Many agreed it was "very interesting" to see such detail, but also wondered what it could be. But there's a simple explanation for the detail in question, an expert revealed to Yahoo News Australia.

Caterpillars hiding is shelters made on native eucalyptus leaves.
Aussies wondered what the small risen sections on the native eucalyptus leaves were. Source: Facebook

"The shape looks like slugs mark.... just guessing," one suggested in the comments. While others guess it might be the work of "some sort of" caterpillar.

Caterpillars create 'shelter' on leaves, expert reveals

Enlisting the help of an expert, Yahoo asked insect and plant ecologist Dr Roger Farrow who confirmed "these are shelters made by the larva (caterpillar) of a concealer moth in the family Oecophoridae". However, the exact species is unclear.

"The larva drags a cut segment from another leaf onto the attached leaf and secures it with silk and lives underneath," Dr Farrow explained. "It feeds on the leaf surface below the shelter."

Interestingly, there are over 5000 species in this family that are endemic to Australia and the larvae of most species feed on fresh and dry eucalypt leaves. Beyond this, the caterpillar then moves into its pupal stage "when all the organs and structures are reorganised from those in the larval stage to those of the adult".

Adult concealer moths are usually small to medium-sized moths and are usually found resting on plants around Australia during the day.

Yellow and black Concealer moth sitting on green leaf.
The concealer moth is one of many from the Oecophoridae family which creates shelters on the leaves. Source: Google Images

Fascinating moth facts:

  • Moths have four stages of life — egg, larva, pupa and adult.

  • Adult moths have a short lifespan of just a few days or weeks.

  • Many adult moths don’t have functional mouths and instead live off their caterpillar fat reserves.

  • They eat gum trees, paperbark and Callistemon.

'Unbearable itch' caused by common moth

Earlier this month, an Aussie mum was left unable to sleep and suffering an ‘unbearable’ itch after touching the cocoon of a White Stem Gum Moth.

The insect is one of the largest common moths found in Sydney but can also be found across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria according to the Australian Museum. The cocoons are usually found on tree trunks, in firewood, in letterboxes and even under backyard items like trampolines.

“The short spines on the outside of the cocoon are sharp and brittle, meaning they will break off and lodge in your skin; they also carry a toxin that causes pain and, in rare cases, anaphylactic shock,” CPR Kids shared on their Facebook page.

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