A small group of FIDO members visited K’gari in mid-January to see the impact of the fire.
Remember the children’s storybook – The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Well, K’gari had droves of them!
Although epicormic shoots were appearing from some eucalypts and other species, things were still pretty grim. This first sign of life was met with more life, as swarms of looper caterpillars moved in on the new shoots and, in many instances, stripped the new shoots bare!
Looper caterpillars look like leeches as they walk, arching up and stretching out. They turn into moths, with bark-coloured wings that lie flat on the abdomen. To identify the species, you have to raise them to adulthood.
It’s just amazing that the parents survived the fire and very rapidly laid millions of eggs as soon as the first shoots appeared. They, in turn, were no doubt welcomed and consumed by birds and other predators. And so the web of life goes on.
Contributed by Peter Shooter, FIDO