For some months now, local Red Gums, especially around Mount Alexander, have been looking pretty bedraggled, attacked by some leaf eating insect we’ve been unable to identify. It seems to prefer only Red Gums: many Australians are unable to tell eucalypt species apart, but our insects are pretty good at it.
Any suggestions about what the culprit is would be welcome. Infestations of Red Gums are pretty common, but this one looks more drastic than most.
Part of our problem is that the Red Gum is a generous host. A 2002 experiment found over 450 insect species in the canopies of just two trees near the Murray River! (You can find this info and a million other fascinating things in Flooded forest and desert creek, ecology and history of the River Red Gum, by Matthew Coloff–it’s in the Goldfields library system). So presumably there are several hundred suspects in this assault case…
Few years ago was told that a multicoloured bug, Kaleidoscope Bug? (quite attractive little thing) has horns about the size of a thumb nail, was the culprit. Live in Castlemaine by Campbells Creek and we had a massive infestation of the things and the gums were almost eaten bare. They seem to have disapeared last year, but the leaves are still being eaten this year, although not badly here at least. Hope that helps.
It sounds like you’re referring to the Cup Moth, which ate its way through a fair bit of our bush a while ago? I’m pretty sure this isn’t the same problem [not so many of the pretty grubs around, for a start]–Bernard Slattery