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

Australian Moths and other garden observations (1 Viewer)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Just had a quick Google to see your location Atropos, with PNG as a neighbour, hardly suprising you get so much incredible stuff! (y)
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Just had a quick Google to see your location Atropos, with PNG as a neighbour, hardly suprising you get so much incredible stuff! (y)
We used to live on Thursday Island off the tip of Cape York which is even closer to PNG....Cape York is roughly the size of the UK and probably only myself who is trapping regularly here
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
We used to live on Thursday Island off the tip of Cape York which is even closer to PNG....Cape York is roughly the size of the UK and probably only myself who is trapping regularly here
Pretty incredible stuff, must be a bit frustrating not to have anyone to share you records with on a local basis?
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Pretty incredible stuff, must be a bit frustrating not to have anyone to share you records with on a local basis?
It is but there is a great FB group for Indo-Pacific moths and a good if small network of Aussie moth-er predominately down south and a lot are ex pats!
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Very quiet again last night which is no surprise with the full moon but among the few moths that did appear was this Calindoea atripunctalis (Thyrididae) that is new to me
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
I caught this Syntherata (Saturnidae) last month. They are a very tricky genus to ID from the adults as they are all so variable both pattern wise and base colour wise (ranging from yellow to red to brown). Have heard back this morning from the expert in this family in Aus and it is most likely that this is Syntherata melvilla.
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Oooohhh, not sure I like the idea of catching stuff to pin them.
In the UK the need for collection is pretty slim as most European species are reasonably well known and can be identified. Here it is a completely different story, there are probably 25-30000 speciesin Aus of which roughly 10000 are described another 5000 are known unknowns and the rest is a guess as to what there is. I routinely catch undescribed species, often several in a session. I do now retain these specimens, initially in the fridge but once I am certain that they are new then they are killed and stored until they can be sent to the appropriate museum - primarily to go down to the National Collection in Canberra or for researchers, I provided some specimens for the recent Sphingidae monograph, and am currently looking for specific Tort genera for a researcher reviewing them. On the whole 98%+ of my catch is photographed on the sheet, about 2% is retained from the sheet and possibly half of those are then kept and sent away, given that on a decent night can catch 250+ species and 000s of individuals the retention is very small, in all honesty I probably kill more driving to some of my bush sites than I do by retaining voucher specimens...and of course without voucher specimens none of the currently widely used field guides would be written...
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Still slowly working through my two big nights out in the bush (and unknowns from my garden), both well over 100 species which for the Dry is amazing. The forecast for the weekend is overcast and some rain so I am hoping to go out again on Friday and Sunday nights (have found an even better site just 500m deeper into the woodland)
Arrada percnopis (Erebidae, Hypeninae) - this one has taken some tracking down as some of its features are very Stictopterinae like. This is possibly the first live photos of this species and the first records since the 90s
Chrysocraspeda cyphosticha (Geometridae, Sterrhinae) - another not commonly recorded species but this is regular here
Limacodidae unk - have absolutely no idea with this one, have talked to a few experts in this family and we are none the wiser and no one is even really sure which genus this is. Hopefully more will appear and if I can get a gravid female may try to breed it.
Ophiorrhabda sp A (Tortricidae, Olethreutinae) - one of the many known unknowns that I catch. Unlike many this seems to have quite a wide distribution across northern Aus from Darwin through the Top End, across Cape York and down to south of Cairns
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
One that got away last month. Talking to a couple of people who have been looking at this genus in Australia they don't recognise it at all so there is a distinct possibility that this is / was a new species. Will try and retain the next one if I catch it again.
Anthela (Anthelidae)
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Was out in the bush again last night and there has been a definite shift towards Dry season mothing. The sheet is still busy but it is predominantly micros these days, just as fascinating (especially with a decent camera allowing decent photos) but far more of a challenge to get an ID for. This session will take several weeks to get the bulk to genus or species level (and of course I shall be out again as soon as commitments allow ...) There were some stunning macro's as well of which these are just two
Psalidostetha banksiae (Notodontidae, Notodontinae) - there is a single record from the late 80s closer to the tip but aside from that this seems to be the first record north of Cairn. This one is a female showing the classic I am dead pose when disturbed
Anthela asterias (Anthelidae) - a new species for me. There were two on the sheet last night
However one of the stars of the night, all be it a very fleeting one, was this Ima (Mantidae). A friend of mine is studying the taxonomy of this genus (and the similar Ciulfina) for his Masters and was amazed to see this photo as the next nearest known Ima is in Cairns (where DNA studies are indicating that the single described species is in fact two) with another undescribed species he has found further south. In his words this is without doubt new to science and I have been given detailed instructions as to how to find more (they are very faithful to specific tree types) and obtain more photos and if possible some live specimens so that they can be bred on....I should add that these guys are so fast they make Usain Bolt look like he is dawdling and I only got this photo by sheer fluke as it appeared next to a moth I was trying to photo...
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
A few more from last night
Ctimene ANIC 1 (Geometridae, Ennominae) one of the two known but undescribed Ctimene in Australia. The other is in the Top End
Loxioda hampsoni (Erebidae Unassigned) - a regular visitor to my traps around Cairns but not one I have seen for a couple of years
Neargyria persimilis (Crambidae, Crambinae) - only the second time I have recorded this species.
Parasoidae paroa (Limacodidae) - one of the many species of Limacodidae about which we know nothing so I have been asked to try and catch a female and see if I can breed them.
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
When you trap in the bush in Aus it is never just moths that you attract and one of the reasons that I use a sheet rather than a more conventional skinner trap is the potential for a range of visitors who have the potential to kill me...not intentionally but just a natural reaction to some idiot grabbing the cover they were hiding under. So far up here the extra bonuses have all been benign but this Spotted Python got my heart racing before I could see it properly as at least 2 of the top 10 most venomous snakes are regular locals...
The diversity of Antlions / Owlfly is incredible here. At the moment there are no published references for these just a handful of papers dealing with broader taxonomic separation but a guide is apparently in preparation.
Another friend is working on Australian Phasmids and whilst in TI we found several potentially new species. I have so far caught three species here and last night five individuals of another potentially new species turned up on the sheet
 

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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Is there a house to rent for a month anywhere near you ;)

This must be quite exciting for you, so much potential for finding new things, maybe get your name on one (y)
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Is there a house to rent for a month anywhere near you ;)

This must be quite exciting for you, so much potential for finding new things, maybe get your name on one (y)
My wife and I have been thinking about opening a B&B targeting among others entomologists but it would require us to be in the same place and at the moment that is not going to happen as her skill set is in too much demand and we are rarely anywhere for too long - that said we are hoping and intending to stay here for 5 years if we can.
Every time I set the trap you just never know what you are going to find - I think on average I see something either completely new or never photographed before at least 50% of the time and in certain locations probably virtually every time
 

Atropos

Well-known member
Despite todays long term forecast for a potentially quite wet spring we are definitely still in the Dry season as the moth sheet is full of micro moths, There is a perception that micro moths are small and brown but clearly this is not true. A case in point being this Paliga haematalis (Crambidae, Pyraustinae) from last night. It is restricted to the tip of Cape York and as far as I can tell was last recorded (well last published record for certain) in 1994 and there are no published photos of a live specimen...till now.
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
Sometimes finding a visual match is the easy part, working out what the correct name is can at times be trickier. The specimen below I was able to track down a match for on BOLD quite easily namely Avirostrum albina (Erebidae, Catocalinae) but after that... There was no Avirostrum albina on the Australian list which is in itself not too unusual for a couple of reasons, the AFD is often out of date and living in Far North Queensland I regularly catch species from PNG that are not yet officially on the list. My next port of call is usually LepIndex to see if the taxon names I have are valid but unfortunately LepIndex is not working properly (I have since found out it is a firewall issue at NHM) so I contacted my friend who is one of the experts on the moths of Papua as the match I had found was recorded in that area. It turns out that Avirostrum is we think a junior synonym of Pangrapta and this does bear similarities to the species that occur in Papua. So was reasonably happy to change the label to reflect this and call it Pangrapta sp cf albina pending further research. It turns out that whilst none of the above is wrong this is in fact now called something completely different namely Heterormista modesta (Erebidae, Erebinae, Catocalini). I can find just a couple of records from Australia both well to my south so a new species for the Cape
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
IDing specimens is a long drawn out process here sometimes taking years....I used to catch this semi regularly up until Oct 2018 when we moved to the Northern Territory for a while, and I have now caught it again last week. I had failed to find an ID and had thought it was a Labanda (Nolidae, Chloephorinae) species. Whilst looking for something else (that is still un identified) I stumbled across its ID and now know that this is in fact Aucha vesta (Noctuidae, Acronictinae).
 

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Atropos

Well-known member
This was a stunning surprise on the wall last night. This is Genduara punctigera (Lasiocampidae, Lasiocampinae). It has a predominantly southern distribution with the vast majority of records being from NSW and Vic; there are a couple of recent records from the far north eastern WA and two recent records from the far south of Qld. The closest records to me are of two collected from Kuranda in 1905. This is the most northerly Australian record and the first for the Cape.
Weipa, Cape York; Sept 2021
 

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

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