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Australian Moths and other garden observations (3 Viewers)

Atropos

Well-known member
After an absence of a couple of years I am now back in a location that has a stable internet connect. We stayed in Nhulunbuy for nearly two years before my wifes' work saw us posted on to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait where our connection was dire. Now after a year on TI we are back on the Aussie mainland and are stationed in Weipa on the west coast of Cape York (Far North Queensland). Trapping on TI was very interesting but quite restricted due to the ridiculous number of streetlights which meant that garden trapping was pointless and I was totally dependent on trapping with my genny when the weather conditions and my wifes' work schedule allowed me (the joys of being married to a senior, on call medical worker).
Here in Weipa the situation is much better with garden trapping back and many interesting bush sites within easy reach...
Here are a few from the first fortnights trapping - due to the under recording in this area of Aus many are new records for the Cape (an area approx the same size as the UK with few sealed roads and as far as I can tell no-one regularly trapping the area, just a few visiting moth-ers primarily during the peak season the Wet)
Amerila crokeri (Erebidae, Arctiinae) - a regular visitor to the garden.
Ctimene ANIC 1 (Geometridae, Ennominae) - none of the Ctimene in Australia have been formally described. I have recorded this a couple of times in the Northern Territory but here they are common in my garden with up to three a night
Daphnis placida (Sphingidae) - one of four hawkmoths that I have seen within the first fortnight. Not particularly rare but a promising sign that during the Wet Sphingid diversity might be reasonable
Psamatodes abydata (Geometridae, Ennominae) a native in South America north wards (from N Argentina) through the Caribbean and into the southern United States, introduced to the Pacific in the 1970s and has become widespread very quickly since then. I can find no published records for Australia but i suspect that there are some out there. For more infor see link below from the Moths of Borneo vol 11
https://www.mothsofborneo.com/.../macariini_5_1.php...
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
There are too many highlights from TI to post but I have selected eight for the time being and may add more if work and time allows...
Cochylini sp (Tortricidae, Olethreutinae) - I caught ten individuals of this distinctive species. Having talked to the Australian expert in Torts we think that this is probably something within Cochylini but she has never seen anything like this and there is nothing close in ANIC so until they have looked at specimens it will remain a mystery
Commoneria sp (Tortricidae, Olethreutinae) - there are only a handful of records of this diminutive genera and fewer than eight known specimens of this genera (named after the guru of Australian Moths the late Ian Common). Again the Tort expert is unsure if this is one of the three described species or an as yet undescribed species
Xylorycta sp (Xyloryctidae) - mislabeled by myself as a presumed Cryptophasa species this is another apparently new species according to the expert in this group but again until the specimen is examined he cannot be certain of its placement
Myrmidonistis hoplora (Crambidae, Spilomelinae) - a rarely recorded species apparently restricted to the tip third of Cape York. This seems to be the first photograph of a live specimen although there are three specimens on BOLD
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
TI part two...
Imma itygramma (Immidae) - an new species for Australia, all be it one that has been mis-identified in the past as I have found a handful of published photos that predate my specimen. I have since recorded this in Weipa as well
Imma lyrifera (Immidae) - a rarely recorded species found in FNQ and Papua, talking to the expert in the moths of Papua there are only three known historic records of this species, there are a handful of records from the Cairns region since the mid 90s
Piestoceros sp cf conjuctella (Psychidae) - the current taxonomic placement of this genus is probably not correct. I caught three individuals of this species, superficially it looks very good for conjunctella but as the nearest record is 3100kms south at Lakes Entrance in Victoria it is not certain that this is the same species.
Pygmaeomorpha ocularis (Limacodidae) - a widespread and quite common species this was one of those that no matter how many times I caught it I could not resist taking more photos...
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Bad hair day moths...the first two are both Epicoma (Notodontidae, Thaumetopoeinae) and possibly even the same species as they are all extremely variable but as I did not retain them and did not see the hindwing I will probably never know! The third is Laelia obsoleta (Erebidae, Lymantriinae).

 

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renopaul

Bromborough, Wirral, UK
To echo Aeshna's comment: great to have you back, keep em coming! These records are amazing, and I'm sure an important contribution to the natural history of the area.

Cheers
Paul
 

Atropos

Well-known member
The most common hawkmoth in the garden at the moment Ambulyx dohertyi, have only seen males so far
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
The most common hawkmoth in the garden at the moment Ambulyx dohertyi, have only seen males so far
Spectacular, and the females are even better!

Great flicker pages Dominic, Freshwater Croc should be called Australian Gharial, didn't even know they existed in Aus.
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Spectacular, and the females are even better!

Great flicker pages Dominic, Freshwater Croc should be called Australian Gharial, didn't even know they existed in Aus.
The females rarely come to light, have seen no more than 8 I think in last nine years. My Flickr is out of date, have another 20000+ moth photos ready to upload and another 50000k+ to ID and edit! Hawks here are amazing have caught 49 species in my various gardens with max of 22 species a night (and over 150 individuals that night)
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
The females rarely come to light, have seen no more than 8 I think in last nine years. My Flickr is out of date, have another 20000+ moth photos ready to upload and another 50000k+ to ID and edit! Hawks here are amazing have caught 49 species in my various gardens with max of 22 species a night (and over 150 individuals that night)
Amazing, reminds me of Pusi Temple in Laos, it has whitewashed walls which are floodlit at night and if you get there early AM, the walls are still covered in some spectacular moths, including Hawks. I'll attach a sample if that's ok, I've had a go at ID but some could be wrong, all from one short visit.
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Amazing, reminds me of Pusi Temple in Laos, it has whitewashed walls which are floodlit at night and if you get there early AM, the walls are still covered in some spectacular moths, including Hawks. I'll attach a sample if that's ok, I've had a go at ID but some could be wrong, all from one short visit.
Very nice selection. Worth checking the Acosmeryx as they are a tricky genus and I struggle with the three species we have in Aus. If you are on FB then join the Sphingidae group and post there as the likes of Jean Hauxaire, Ian Kitching and Tomas Melichar are all members and they between them they are probably the three global experts on the family. The latreillii looks very different to the ones here but does look a reasonable ID the others I would agree with, but not sure of the status of these within Laos. There is a great project on iNat where you can post all Sphingidae records and tag them in the project and they will get checked there as well, I think that there is also a Moths of Laos project they could be tagged in as well
 

Atropos

Well-known member
The Dry is really starting to bite now and the trap has been quiet the last couple of nights - has been windy and for us cold with night time temps dropping to the teens...yes I know compared to many places that hardly counts as cold and when we lived in Scotland I would have agreed but here it has me reaching for the second doona! There are still things of interest on the wall / sheet but I am now only having 20-30 species a night (although there are a few micro's that I don't always remember to photograph) which is giving me the opportunity to work on my back log of unidentified photos, enter records into both my database and on iNat and catch up with setting specimens and sending some off to specialists.
Here are highlights from the last few days
Donuca castalia (Erebidae, Erebinae, Catocalini) a highly variable and quite widespread species
Grammodes oculicola (Erebidae, Erebinae, Ophiusini) one of nine described members of the genus that occurs in Aus, there are several undescribed species as well
Theretra oldenlandiae (Sphingidae) the fifth species for the garden which is not bad give the time of year
Semiothisa depranata (Geometridae, Ennominae) a new species for me and one whose status I am uncertain of as I can find no records of it on the main pages such as iNat but BOLD has specimens clearly labelled as being in ANIC and having been caught on the Cape

The final photo is my trap, higher than I normally set them but this way it can shine over the garden fence towards some decent bush that is about 500m away
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
An interesting pair from a couple of nights ago. Superficially these two look very similar but they are in fact from two different Superfamilies'.
On the left is the Geometroidea Arhodia lasiocamparia (Geometridae, Oenochrominae) and on the right is the Bombycoidea Symphyta psaropis (Lasiocampidae, Lasiocampinae)
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Last night was quite productive with at least 43 species ID'd either to species or genus level at this stage and roughly another 40 to go. It is very rare that I can ID everything on the sheet to genus level when I initially edit the photos. I am still working on photos from several years ago and think I can count on the fingers of one hand, and still have at least one finger to spare, how many nights I have managed to get everything down to at least genus level. This is due in part to the paucity of up to date resources for Australian Moths and also my remote locations which means accessing any major collection to use as a reference base is virtually impossible as they are all in the southern half of Australia. The undoubted highlight last night, and one that I have seen at least three times in the garden but due to poor photos been unable to confirm its ID until this morning, is this Sericophylla nivalis (Crambidae, Spilomelinae). As far as I can tell this was last recorded in 1937 and is restricted to the top third of Cape York. Living here the dedication of the early entomologists who made their way to these remote places never ceases to amaze me. Today these areas are relatively easy to access at certain times of year with the right vehicle or plane but nearly 100 years ago it must have been a very different undertaking!
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Last night was another surprisingly good session with 55 species ID'd already and another 30 to go - considering as I have said before, this is the Dry which is the closest we get to winter conditions and the mothing does reflect this, this is an excellent night and does bode well for the Wet. Am hoping to get out to my closest bush site tomorrow night as well which should be interesting. Have put July's data into my database and have ID'd to at least genera 171 species with many more to go so am very pleased with the garden so far.
Highlights last night included
Archigargetta amydra (Notodontidae, Notodontinae) - a species that I have seen a few times but never one as colourful as this!
Calguia deltophora (Pyralidae, Phyticinae) - nice to have a genus that is actually identifiable, the vast majority of my Phycitinae at this stage I cannot even get to genus let alone species level!
Hemonia micrommata (Erebidae, Arctiinae) - a very nicely marked individual
Ophiusa parcemacula (Erebidae, Erebinae) - have seen several of these this week
Pararguda australasiae (Lasiocampidae) - not seen this genus for the last three years so nice to catch one again
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
A quieter night after the previous 80+ species. Still a couple of goodies including my sixth Sphingidae for the garden and my first Macroglossum in the form of a battered Macroglossum vacillans and my third Endoxyla and the first readily identifiable to species an Endoxyla nephocosma.
Provided I can get my genny started (the movers very kindly packed it on its side so have left it to settle) I am heading into the bush tonight to see whats happening
 

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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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