One of the Swift, or Ghost Moths – Oxycanus dirempta.
Our Indian Summer (mild April weather) kept nocturnal insect life interesting. About 35+ moth species came to the light in April. The most exotic specimens have been large, dive-bombing moths that suddenly appear for a day or two and then they are gone. There are several large, closely related species commonly known as Ghost, or Swift Moths that are surprisingly difficult to tell apart for beginners like me. This one is Oxycanus dirempta. - a species with quite variable wing patterns and colouration.
Of course, there were plenty of other species as well, arranged here in broad groupings. Click on the images to see better detail.
A male Boisduval’s Autumn Moth (Oenosandra boisduvalii) (ID P. Marriott)
The second half of March stayed cool, but the garden and bush were drying out- no rainfall to speak of for quite a few weeks now. Perhaps the pick of the bunch was this male Boisduval‘s Autumn Moth (Oenosandra boisduvalii), whose larvae feed on mature eucalypt leaves and shelter under loose bark (the female looks very different).
Overall, numbers were regularly down throughout the evenings, and species diversity also appeared lower (about 29 species, compared to 39 in early March). Continue reading
Male Stag Beetle, Lamprima sp. aurata?
The availability of affordable macro-photography has revolutionized appreciation of the beauty and complexity of insects and other small life-forms. Though I’d love to take better shots, my $450 camera, out of the box, has opened up a whole new world of discovery for me. Small dark shapes against the window take on real identities and a largish insect is illuminated as having unimaginable detail. There’s no way this is design, or plan, this is the marvel of nature and natural selection, illuminated with digital technology.
The Stag Beetle in the title photo was very slow and on his last legs – no problem staying still for the camera. Continue reading
Zonopetala quadripustulella (ID P. Marriott)
My home mothing activities have become a quasi-seasonal survey of the moth fauna in this mixed habitat: part Herb-rich Foothill Forest (EVC 23), part exotic vegetable, fruit and ornamental garden.
The first half of March 2013 saw about 39 types of moth come to the light, similar to late February, and several of these were new types for the site and me. The ‘carpets’ and ‘waves’, Fam. Geometridae (up-front in the gallery) with patterns that resemble, well, carpets and waves, often with flecked patters, are a confronting lot. I’ve managed to name a few, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Continue reading
In a broad, gently sloping drainage line near the western boundary of our property grows a big old tree; the largest on our place and perhaps the biggest tree on Boundary Hill.
It’s a Manna Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) with a diameter (at breast height) of 1.75 m and a height of 37 m. Neither of these dimensions are particularly noteworthy in the context of eucalypt size, but a tree of this size, in this forest, represents an incredibly valuable resource for all sorts of fauna, for example, Sugar Gliders. The tree has multiple ‘spouts’ (broken-off limbs with hollows) and other hollows along it’s trunk, big enough for larger possums, as well as Greater Gliders, though I haven’t seen them here yet. More on Manna Gums and hollows. Continue reading
The beautiful Pale Phrataria (Phrataria replicataria)
About 37 different kinds of moths were recorded in the second-half of Feb., 2013. They’re presented here in no particular order.
Having been watching the same moth sheet for several nights per week, over the last few months, I’m amazed at the species diversity just in our backyard.
True, the bush isn’t far away, but I do wonder what I’d find if I spent the same effort on mothing in Herb-rich Foothill Forest proper, as I do from the convenience of the lounge room. Most species depicted in this post have been recorded here before, but several are first-timers. For ID, I rely heavily on Peter Marriot’s ‘Moths of Victoria’, along with trawling the pics on Donald Hobern’s moth photostream and the Nature of Gippsland photogalleries, but as is common in these mothing posts, most species remain nameless. Continue reading
Compared to the last two (very wet) summers, this butterfly season has been a huge disappointment. Not only have there been few of the more exotic species (e.g. swallowtails, Jezebels, glasswings), even the Common Browns and Xenicas that are usually abundant are seriously down in number.