Tuesday, 27 February 2018

February moth survey

Sandava scitisignata 
The February moth survey in the ACT was held in the forested hills of Namadgi in the south of the territory about 65 km from the Black Mountain survey site and the centre of Canberra city. Once again, I am indebted to Suzi Bond for organising the weekend-long trip and to Glenn Cocking and Ted Edwards for identifying all the moths I photographed.

The moths were attracted to a light and lured to land on a nearby sheet of white fabric spread vertically next to the lamps. And some would land on nearby trees, where I took most of these photographs. This was all in forest without another light to be seen other than the stars above. The night was still and quiet apart from the background clicking of insects. Night-time in the bush, great.

The following are just a sample of the many moth species we found, and I have chosen this set for the individual features described. They are not in any taxonomic or rarity order.

Entometa sp. I like the broad and colourful antennae this moth has, and its 'furry trousers'.

Euproctis baliolalis is another furry species, seen here blending in well with the hairy lichens on a tree stem.

A specimen of Abantiades latipennis hangs from the same tree as the moth above. Its body is pink, but always hidden by folded wings when landed.

A bi-coloured beauty, shy to show its face Acyphas semiochraea. 

Not all moths landed on the sheet or trees. This one preferred to land on the nearby ground, still in the lamplight, but in enough shadow to be easily missed and trod upon. Well it is rather well camouflaged as a fallen leaf, Monoctenis ballerina. 

Many of the species we trapped had furry bodies. The fur is of course modified scales as moths do not have hair. It can be cold in the hills, especially at night in summer or any time of day or night outwith. So, these furry coats would help keep the frost off the moths delicate bodies. This Lomera boisduvalii has a furry collar to its coat. 

I never knew what to expect to appear next under the lamps, the variety of shapes and colours seemed endless. Phaeophlebosia furcifera.

What a tiger, Tigrioides alterna. Think small, look close, whenever you go out at night. 

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