On a recent wander around my garden in search of something interesting to photograph, I came across this amazing little house suspended from one of the branches of a Pride of India tree. Once I saw one, I then became aware of 50 or so silk and stick cases dangling from all over the tree. I took a few photos, and decided to sit and watch what kind of creature emerged from these capsules.
I didn’t have to wait long before a spotty cream head appeared out of the silk entrance. Since looking these guys up, I now know they are Bagworms! These caterpillars construct their home sweet home from silk and whatever type of organic debris that they find themselves in, thereby both camouflaging themselves and protecting them from predators. Creatures that would devour them are birds and other insects. The birds find the egg-laden females most tasty, but the eggs are not digested and excreted going on to hatch in their new habitat, thus promoting the spread of these little guys.
The homes can be anywhere between a few centimetres or a few inches. The larvae construct and keep rebuilding this ‘log cabin’ as they grow. The females never leave this protection of sticks and never change into moths, but the males develop wings and antenna, leave long enough to reproduce and then die. The males have underdeveloped mouth parts that prevent them from feeding so the race is on to mate before they starve to death!
These little critters are eating the leaves of my tree and the smaller twigs, but hopefully I am providing a wonderful platter of treats for the insect eating birds in my garden. The plants are there for all creatures great and small to enjoy, and has provided me with a great opportunity to learn something new. There are no moths to be seen yet but I will be on the lookout for the males are they develop and emerge into the world.