Moth empire to strike back?

As we reported in January, the cup moth devastation of our bushlands seems to be over. But the respite for the affected trees [which have only partly recovered] may be temporary. Tony Morton has sent us these observations from Glenluce:

‘I would like to draw attention to this year’s large population of adult Doratifera oxleyi, the Painted Cup-moth, that produces those extraordinary larvae that are known as Bondi Trams, among other things, and were responsible for the defoliation of a large swathe of Eucalypts in the forests this spring. From 2000 – 2011, I saw very few adult moths (two or three a year). However, last March and this there have been scores coming to light. The trees will be under stress even more next spring, it seems to me, especially as there has been very little rain this year to help them recover from the previous infestation. However, I expect they’re used to it. I thought this worth mentioning, not that we can do anything about it. The moths don’t seem to have predators, though there must be parasitoids. I’ve never seen even Magpies feeding on them. Perhaps a virus will decimate them this year. There have been infestations previously, I believe, so it may be a decennial, or more, phenomenon!’
We’ll have to wait and see on this one: and we’ll be interested in the reaction of DSE, which is planning extensive burns in moth affected bushlands south of Vaughan Springs.
For more info on this interesting–and irritating–creature, click here and here.
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