Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Moth Eisley

Plenty of moths around at the moment. Most of them are small and brown, but a few are small and grey. Occasionally, I'll see one that I think is small and white, but it turns out to be one of the grey ones that's caught the light. It's best for my sanity that I don't attempt to identify these small moths. My eyesight, patience and reference library are not up to the task.

Fortunately, some larger, more striking moths are flying around at the moment. These include the day-flying zodiac moth, Alcides metataurus, a few of which have been feeding on macadamia flowers in the late afternoon. They stay in the shade, perhaps looking for roosting sites, so I refrain from chasing them around with the camera. You can see a photograph of one of these iridescent stunners at BunyipCo.

Here are some moths that posed for the camera inside the house. The ones I can put a name to, anyway. (I make no guarantee the names are absolutely up to date. See previous blog post. Corrections are welcome.)

Oenistis delia (Arctiidae) is also referred to as O. altica in some texts, although this appears to be a different species. It occurs from Sulawesi east to Tonga; in Australia it is found in wetter areas of the east coast as far south as Mackay. The caterpillars of this splendid moth are thought to feed on lichen.


Trigonodes hyppasia (Noctuidae) emerged in huge numbers earlier in the year.Some individuals are still hanging around. This species is widely distributed in the Old World tropics. In Australia, it occurs across the Top End and down the east coast to southern NSW.


I haven't seen many hawkmoths (Sphingidae) apart from close encounters with a bee hawkmoth, which I mistook for a Harrier jump jet as it zoomed past, and a small number of Nephele subvaria (below). But not all at the same time, because that would be like an entomological version of Du Maurier's 'The Birds'. [Note to self: write an entomological version of 'The Birds'.] [Ed:— with a better title.] [What's wrong with 'The Moths'?] [Ed:— perhaps you should get out of the house more often.]


The caterpillars of Asota heliconia (Aganaidae) feed on figs, so I fear for the neighbours' lovely Ficus dammaropsis, which is not far from the house. Fortunately, there's no shortage of native figs around here, so maybe it will be spared. The adults are regular visitors, sometimes appearing in large numbers.

And now I'm going to get out of the house and take a walk in the sun, while I plot 'The Moths: A Horrifying Tale of Wing Scales and Pectinate Antennae'.

Common, I.F.B. (1990) Moths of Australia. MUP.
Zborowski, P. & Edwards. (2207) A Guide to Australian Moths. CSIRO Publishing.

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