Monday 27 April 2015

Moths and the environment

        There are many thousands of moth species in Australia, an estimated 30,000 or more, compared to only 400 species of Australian butterflies.
         Only about 12,000 species of moths have been described and comparatively few have been studied to any great extent. Generally only if they are a pest on food crops and then only to find ways of controlling them.
         Because so little is known, events like land clearing and controlled burns can eliminate a species without ever discovering their benefits.
         There are some caterpillars in the family Oecophoridae that help breakdown the leaves on the forest floor, birds and animals hunt for these insects turning over the leaf litter and creating compost. Others species live on lichens, some on insect eggs, some on spider eggs, seeds, flowers, fruits, leaves, branches, bark, plant galls and many other food source, including one that lives on Koala dung!
         Some moths only breed on one species of plant and the removal of these plants during clearing can lead to the extinction of that species.
         From a gardening point of view, the more we plant species native to our particular local area the more we achieve a better balanced ecosystem. Damage from caterpillars is rarely a problem and the increase in the number of beautiful moths is significant.
          For plants of the Toowoomba and near areas, (depending on soil type), see the “Toowoomba Plants” link in the right margin.

Family:- Oecophoridae
Sub Family:-  Oecophorinae
Genus:- Enchronista
Species:-  proximella

Although tiny, some moths in the Oecophoridae family are brightly coloured. In general they also have the sharp upturned labial palpi, (these are the "tusks") you can see on the front of the moth, and are sensory organs. Body length about 8mm.
I don't know what this one eats but the majority of the family live on Eucalyptus trees or in the leaf litter under them.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

An unusual moth, Lacera noctilio

Genus:- Lacera
Species:- noctilio

This was an unusual visitor a couple of nights ago. It insisted in resting with it’s wings raised like a butterfly, which made it difficult to get a photo of the upper surface. If it is breeding here, the most likely larval food plant on our property is probably Canthium (Psydrax) in the  Rubiaceae family. A body length of around 20mm (the insect screen it is on is 2mm grid), gives a wing span of about 40mm. You can find information on local native plants of Toowoomba on http://toowoombaplants2008.blogspot.com.au/

Periscoptera:-  moth body language

Sub Family:- PYRALINAE
Genus:- Persicoptera
Species:- baryptera (possibly)

This is another one from April, although we see a number of a similar species through the summer months. At rest they lie flat as shown in the above photo but at times they have the unusual stance as shown in the photos below of Persicoptera compsopa.

Sub Family:- PYRALINAE
Genus:- Persicoptera
Species:- compsopa

 Persicoptera compsopa is similar to Persicoptera baryptera above but I have included a sequence of photos to show the way they display, possibly for mating purposes. These photos were taken in December 2014.
(The insect screen is 2mm grid)

Clicking a photo will give a larger image.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

The summer of 2014 - 2015 has been a good year for moths, butterflies and, of course, other insects, in south east Queensland.
Early rain followed by regular falls with plants putting out lots of new shoots and the caterpillars took full advantage.
There was an increase in the species of moths that I hadn’t photographed  here previously, so many, that I still have not identified all of them yet.
The season is all but over for this year and there are fewer moths on the windows at night but still enough new species to be worth watching out for them.

Genus:- Sinpunctiptilia (Possibly)
Species:- emissalis (Possibly)

Genus:- Sphenarches
Species:- anisodactylus

The above photos are two of the plume moths we find here. These ones are some of the largest with a body length of around 20mm. The smallest  I have seen here is not much bigger than a large mosquito.

Sub Family:-
Genus:- Euproctis 
Species:- lucifuga

Genus:-  Pantydia
Species:- capistrata

There are a number of Pantydia moths, many of which look very similar to this one. I think this is the most likely species.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Some April moths

Sub Family:-  PHYCITINAE
Genus:-  Conobathra
Species:- hemichlaena
Sub Family:- HYPENINAE
Genus:-  Esthlodora
Species:- variabilis



Sub Family:- CRAMBINAE
Genus:- Neargyrioides
Species:- Unidentified