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Hairy Mary Prickly Cocoons

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Cocoons covered with barbed hairs

These cocoons usually turn up anywhere that's in shadow and out of the weather: under fence rails, amongst stacked dry timber, on fallen bark. Put a hand on one and your skin is full of prickles. The prickles are brittle and will break off close to the skin, leaving little bits still embedded.

All that I can find on the web is that they're probably from a family called Anthelidae, and that the hairs begin as part of the caterpillar, poking through the cocoon as it is spun.

In spite of searching, we've never seen either a moth or a caterpillar where we find these cocoons. The pictures on http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/anth/nicoth.html are obviously of a similar creature, but the cocoon colour is different, and the page says that that one feeds on wattle, whereas ours are close to a big old gum tree.