These Caterpillars are grey and hairy with a brown head. They are famous for walking in processions. Their hairs are thought to cause skin rash ( urticaria ) in sensitive people, although it has been asserted that it is the hairs on the dead larval skins and adult moths that cause these problems. The rash can last for months after the exposure, and easily become infected. Not only do humans suffer from irritation from the hairs. The hairs have also been implicated in causing abortions in horses.
When disturbed, the Caterpillars are inclined to curl up into a tight hairy spiral. The Caterpillars feed nocturnally on a variety of Australian native trees and shrubs, including the Wattles ( MIMOSACEAE ) :
- Raspberry Jam Wattle ( Acacia acuminata ),
- Hickory Wattle ( Acacia aulacocarpa ),
- Black Wattle ( Acacia concurrens ),
- Lightwood Wattle ( Acacia implexa ), and
- Sydney Wattle ( Acacia longifolia ),as well as
- White Box ( Eucalyptus albens, MYRTACEAE ),
- Red Maple ( Acer rubrum, SAPINDACEAE ), and
- Beefwood ( Grevillea striata, PROTEACEAE ).