Backyard Buddies
Scribbly gums

Photo: John Tann

Scribbly gums

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Scribbly gums are a type of eucalyptus or gum tree. There are a few species that are known as scribbly gums as they all have the 'scribbles' across their bark.

Like all gum trees, large older trees are crucial habitat for many native animals and birds, providing tree hollows essential for nesting. It has clusters of five or so cream coloured flowers which provide nectar for native birds and bees.

They are easily recognised from their distinctive bark that gives them their name. The scribbles are the work of a small moth larvae, Ogmograptis scribula.

In April or May, a moth will lay its eggs in the bark, and the larvae live in the bark through winter. They move about just underneath the bark, feeding on the tree's tissue, which leaves the distinct marks.

In early summer, the larvae have completed their individual artwork on the trunk of their host tree and have come to the surface to pupate.

By autumn, the new moth will hatch from its cocoon, find a mate and start the circle of life all over again.

Did you know? 

There are at least six distinct species of scribbly gum moth, each with their own distinct signature scribble. You can find these scribbles on more than 20 species of eucalypts.

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