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The Changing Seasons: Winter to Spring

— by Caragh

As August wraps up, Land for Wildlife members should be looking to have any wildflower seedlings in the ground ready for the new growth that spring brings. There has been some significantly frosty weather of late so seedlings could remain protected for another couple of weeks until the warmth sets in. In the wildlife arena, caterpillars will become more active and you may see some damage to plants. If this begins to annoy you, remember to admire their role in the ecosystem: caterpillars transform into butterflies and moths, which are important pollinators of native plants. Damage from hungry caterpillars is usually temporary and the emerging variety of moths/butterflies is a great reward for your patience. Wanting to attract caterpillars to your garden? Check out this useful resource from the Australian Plants Society Inc.

Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Sphingidae Family)
Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Sphingidae Family)
Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Sphingidae Family)
Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Sphingidae Family)

This caterpillar was spotted at Ellery Creek Big Hole in the West MacDonnell Ranges earlier in the year. It appears to be the larvae of a Hawk Moth (Sphingidae Family), though which of the 65 Australian species it belongs is unknown to us at the moment. It was found feeding on the leaves of Smooth Spiderbush (Clerodendrum floribundum) to the edge of the waterhole. One species of Hawk Moth or Tar Vine Caterpillar in Arrernte is ‘Yeperenye / Yipirinya’ and is the focal piece of Jukurrpa (Dreaming) for Mparntwe (Alice Springs) Arrernte, along with ‘Ntyarlke’ (Elephant Grub) and ‘Utnerrengatye’ (Emu Bush Grub). Listen to the Yipirinya Jukurrpa or learn about other stories in A Town Like Mparntwe.

Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps).
Central Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps).

The warmer weather will also bring out more reptiles, such as Central Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) and Sand Goannas (Varanus gouldii)… among others! Be sure to take care on the roads to prevent accidental flattening of reptiles when they are sunning themselves (I’ve noticed quite a few victims this week following warm mornings). This Central Bearded Dragon was found near the Land for Wildlife office a couple of weeks ago. Following the removal of a tick, it went on its way to a sunny area for some basking.

Enjoy the warmer weather and get out planting some natives! Not sure what to plant? Head down to the Alice Springs Nursery on Saturday 27th of August for their event ‘Spring into Spring’ to grab some local natives and visit the Land for Wildlife / Garden for Wildlife stall to ask us about your vegetation type.