Scribbly gum moth Click to enlarge image
Scribbly gum moth Ogmograptis sp. Image: David Britton
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Genus
    Ogmograptis
    Family
    Bucculatricidae
    Super Family
    Tineoidea
    Order
    Lepidoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    1
  • Size Range
    adult wingspan 9 mm
  • Life history mode
    terrestrial, volant
  • Feeding Habits
    herbivore

Introduction

Scribbly gums are spectacular Australian eucalypts that get their name from the strange 'scribbles' left behind on their smooth bark. These zigzag tracks are tunnels made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth and tell a story of the insect's life cycle.


Scribbly Gum
'Scribbles' left behind by larvae Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

Identification

Despite the evidence left behind on scribbly gum trees, living specimens of Scribbly Gum Moth larvae and adults are rarely seen. The adults are very small and grey. Only one species has been formally described, but there are several undescribed species known from collections.

Habitat

Scribbly Gum Moths live in forests and woodlands.

Distribution

Scribbly Gum Moths are found from south-eastern Queensland to Victoria.

Seasonality

Larvae pupate in November-December, adults are mainly active during April-March

Feeding and diet

Larvae feed on sapwood

Life history cycle

The female scribbly gum moth lays eggs between layers of old and new bark. The larvae burrow into the new bark and, as the old bark falls away, the feeding trails of the larva are revealed. The diameter of the tunnels increase as the larvae grow. When the larvae have reached their maximum size they emerge and crawl out from between the bark and into the litter, or into cracks in the bark, where they form a elongate ridged grey cocoon. Adults emerge in the following autumn, and are attracted to light.