11 April 2009

Hepialidae - Abantiades species

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Hepialidae - Abantiades sp.

The family Hepialidae have many large moths that are commonly known as Swift or Ghost Moths. Many are endemic to Australia as their larvae are wood borers and specific to various eucalypt species, where they may live for several years. However, when they do emerge as an adult moth, they will only live for a single day. This shortness of life is because the adults have no mouth parts when they pupate, so can neither eat or drink and survive just long enough to reproduce.

Despite only living for a day, Swift Moths in the Esperance region can be quite common on calm nights after light autumn rain, so seldom appear much before Easter (April), unless there are cool conditions and early rainfall. The size of these moths can vary considerably, even within the same species, from around 5 cm ( 2") in length to nearly 10 cm (4").

I am not sure of the species name of the photographed moth below, despite it being a dead ringer for Abantiades magnificus, but the distribution for that moth is listed only for the Eastern States. On further investigation there is a similar WA species and that is Abantiades hydrographus, recorded near the west coast nearly 600 km (370 miles) away. So I shall leave it as an Abantiades species until further information comes to light.