Backyard Buddies
Tiger Moths

Photo: Donald Hobern

Tiger Moths

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Tiger Moths live on the coastal areas of eastern Australia. They love to drink the nectar from wildflowers and prefer an established garden, where they can also eat lichen.

Lichen occurs when fungi and algae grow together. In rainforests and alpine forests it forms a large carpet on the ground. Keep a look out for grey, green or yellow patches on your backyard rocks and trees.

Unlike many other moths, the tiger moth has bright colours on its wings. They have striped abdomens which has given them their name. Their caterpillars are covered in sparse dark hairs which gives them the name "Woolly Bears". They can cause skin irritation so these caterpillars are better left alone.

The Tiger Moth is a food source for small birds. Luckily for the Tiger Moth, most predators know its marked patches of orange and black mean that the moth is distasteful or poisonous.

After dark when its visual signal is useless, the tiger moth emits ultrasonic clicks which can be picked up by insectivorous bats. These clicks warn the bats that the moth is unpleasant to eat, and also jams the bats' sonar system.

You will find Tiger Moths on plants usually around flowers, around water such as puddles and in the air.

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”Birds, bugs, lizards and penguins are my favourite Backyard Buddies – I like to find, watch and learn about what they do and what I can do to help them.“

Gus – 11 year old Backyard Buddy, NSW

Photo: OEH