Gum Leaf Skeletoniser
New Zealand Status: Introduced
Conservation Status: Notifiable Pest
Uraba lugens, commonly known as Gum-leaf skeletoniser, is an Australian insect that damages mainly Eucalyptus (Gum) trees by eating the foliage. It is native to all states in Australia, except the Northern Territory. The young caterpillars eat the green parts of the leaves, avoiding the veins, creating a 'skeleton' leaf appearance. Older larvae are capable of eating whole leaves which increases the damage to the trees. Repeated defoliation by the Gum-leaf Skeletoniser can slow tree growth and in severe cases even kill individual trees.
Uraba lugens caterpillars have long hairs that can cause itching or a rash on skin contact so people handling affected plants should wear protective clothing.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader