Wednesday, 31 January 2018

January Moths on Black Mountain

This is a post to continue my partial coverage of the moths surveyed at Black Mountain. It is only a sample of the moths attracted to the lights set last week by Glenn (see previous monthly posts for details and comparisons). The little beauty above, was the first one I saw this time. It is a Pink Arhodia Arhodia lasiocamparia.

In profile, its colouring fitted well, striking, against the black night behind.

Yet on a substrate of peeling bark, its colouring did not seem so bold and in daylight would be difficult to spot. The caterpillars feed on gum eucalyptus leaves, of which Black Mountain has 800 ha, so they must be well fed. Wingspan 6-7 cm.

This was my favourite of the evening as I am always fascinated by how well animals can conceal themselves by shape, colour and posture against their background habitat's colour and form. In this case, leaf and bark litter on the forest floor. This is Antictena punctunculus.

Even the frayed hind edges of its wings blend in with the broken edges of the fallen leaves.
Wingspan 4 cm.

Not all the moths were attracted to land on the white illuminated sheet, many landed on nearby trees, especially the smooth-barked gums, like this specimen of a Cleora sp. This is a species of looper, so named because the caterpillars loop their body into a high arch when crawling. Wingspan 5 cm.

Then there was this late contender for favouritism, an Epicoma sp., possibly the male of the species below, Epicoma contristis. 

This was the Epicoma contristis female, she is silver while the males are darker, hence the reason why I think the former sample might be a male of this species. The caterpillars of this species are of the classic dark grey, bristling, hairy type. Wingspan 3cm.

The Epicoma have fantastic head 'hair' it completely covers their face. I don't know the purpose for this hair, and everything in nature has a purpose - thermoregulation in the cool Canberra nights? It is just so illuminating to discover what lives in the woods and how variable moths are in colour and form.

Another wonderful night on the mountain.

No comments:

Post a Comment