This caterpillar with a toothbrush sticking out of his back was found on a hardenbergia plant . It is the larva of the Painted Apple Moth , Teia anartoides . There are a few unusual features to the life cycle of these moths. The caterpillars are covered with tufts of hair that cause skin irritation to sensitive people. They pupate among the leaves of food plants in a sparse coc0on decorated the hairs from their larval skin for prtection.
The female adult moth is dull brown , fat and flightless. She stays beside her cocoon emitting pheromones to attract males. She layes her eggs on the cocoon after fertilization . The newly hatched caterpillars ‘ balloon ‘ in the breeeze on silk threads to spread across the country side . The male moth has a brown patterned forewings and yellow hindwings with a broad black band . They are small with only a 2cm wingspan .
These caterpillars are considered to be a pest to the forestry industry because they feed on pine trees.