While watering the garden a small creature, about 6.5 mm long was noticed trying to escape the water spray by hiding under the pine bark mulch, and something about it warranted a closer look. It was happy to cling to a finger while being taken inside to the camera, and inspection of the photos taken on the cork mouse pad showed it to be a moth, the fat body suggesting it was a female carrying a batch of eggs. An interesting feature of this moth, seen in the images below, is the abbreviated wings. Female moths of a number of species are wingless or have vestigial wings and are flightless, consequently their lives are earthbound. Another interesting feature observed was its ability to hop a surprising distance. When released back into the garden it jumped nearly 30 centimetres down into the mulch where it quickly disappeared. A possibility is that this moth’s wings failed to develop properly, but its behaviour suggests that it is a flightless female of a species yet to be determined.
Click to enlarge.
Chelepteryx collesi, male.
In May last year when mothing in the box/ironbark bush at Glenmaggie, thirty five Batwing Moths, Chelepteryx collesi came in to the light. That post with pictures of this late autumn specialty can be seen here. Other locations with different eucalypt species, eg. peppermint, and manna gum, have also yielded good results on previous occasions, and without exception all have been males as females rarely come to the light.
The garden is out from town, many kilometres from the nearest bush, and has a number of eucalypt species and a couple of Angophora costata. It supports populations of many moth species and over the years has come up with some surprises, but while wandering with the camera in search of subjects, something completely unexpected was found. In common with the brittle gums, the angophoras are shedding their bark, and an enquiring glance behind a loose sheet on one revealed a sheltering very large caterpillar. The sheet had to be bent down to allow photographs of a larva of Chelepteryx collesi. Photographs taken it was bent back and held with a tie to protect the larva which may be getting ready to pupate.
Length approximately 100 mm.
How good it would be to have a population of these spectacular moths established in the garden.
Click to enlarge.