Monday, May 26, 2008


We have our fair share of moths that are attracted by our lights.
One of the most famous visitors is the bogong moth. Last year they arrived in their millions and our windows were covered for nights on end.
They have been known to completely shut down the electical circuts of multi storey buildings, shutting off air conditioning units and standing passengers in lifts. In our captital city, Canberra, it became necessary to turn off all public building and street lighting to prevent blackouts.
As larvae, the insects live in the soil across southern Queensland and the western plains of NSW. In spring the moths follow the Great Dividing Range, heading to the Snowy Mountains to avoid summer's heat. There they hibernate in caves, up to 17,000 every square metre.
Aborigines once visited the caves to collect the moths, which are rich in protein and fat.
According to one study, 100 grams of bogong moth abdomen has three times the fat, and almost twice the kilojoules, of a similar portion of a Big Mac.
On their southern trek westerly winds often blow the moths off course and over the mountains and into coastal areas. This is when we see them but thankfully not every year.
A few weeks ago we had another moth visitor I had not seen before. They were not in huge numbers but were the size of a small bird. They stayed a few nights and then disappeared.
For identification I sent off a picture to the moth guru at the University of Sydney who said it was Chelepteryx chalepteryx or the white stemmed wattle moth.

He was so impressed with my picture it is now on his web site.
It is considered a large moth with a wing span of an adult male up to 10cm (4 inches).
We can only guess that the caterpillar feeds on the local wattle trees (Acacia sp.) that abound in this area.

1 comment:

CLM said...

Gross! You are the King of Info.
Perhaps, just King will do - It is a great photo!

Sooo looking forward to seeing your guys!