Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

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A familiar sight in Central Australia are the Processionary Caterpillar (Ochrogaster lunifer), also commonly known as the Itchy Grub or “fluffy ball of pain”.

A social creature, they nest together in a silken woven bag (often in the branches of trees). These fascinating social creatures feed on the leaves of the tree where their cocoon nest is and will leave the tree once they strip the leaves in search of more food. They can often be seen doing a walk-about, as they create a giant conga line, weaving their way across the landscape, making their way to another tree.

The caterpillars keep in touch with the line by following the hairs on the rear end of the caterpillar in front, leaving a silken trail in their wake. These hairs can cause severe skin rash on people, hence their itchy grub name. The local aboriginal people are known to use the silk cocoon bag in traditional medicine.

Check out our main Fauna Index section on the Processionary Caterpillar.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Notodontidae
  • Subfamily: Thaumetopoeinae
  • Genus: Ochrogaster
  • Species: O. lunifer
  • Binomial name: Ochrogaster lunifer