A procession of caterpillars.
A procession of caterpillars.

I was wandering through a rather weedy Grassy Woodland today, avoiding getting snagged by briar rose, when my walking companion, Doug, exclaimed ‘Hey, what’s this?’ It was a furry line snaking through the grass, at slow but steady pace.

These were the incredibly hairy Processionary Caterpillars of an attractive moth, Ochrogaster lunifer, that occurs over much of Australia. About 20 larvae were following their leader, head to tail, through the short grass, stopping occasionally when they felt threatened by my close-up presence.

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We watched as they made a bee-line (so to speak) towards … something, nearby; we didn’t hang around to find out. This sighting helped to close a circle for me, as I’d only recently become aware that this species occurs in the Strathbogie Ranges. I was  surprised that an adult moth turned up at Boho South a couple of months ago. I’d naively thought this species was restricted to outback Australia, as that’s where they are usually depicted as occurring.  Now I know better. I’ll keep my eye out in future and maybe even follow them to see where they’re headed.