25 April 2009

Sun Moth - Synemon species

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Sun Moth - Synemon sp.

Sun Moths are from the family Castniidae and easily recognised by their butterfly-like clubbed antennae, which are quite unlike any other moth. Not only that, but they only fly during the day and usually only then, in bright sunny weather, whereas very few other moths venture out during the day unless disturbed in their roost and are quickly seeking a new one.

The larvae of Sun Moths feed on the roots of grasses and sedges and with this particular moth, it is in open (well-drained) sandy heathland with short sedge vegetation, where it may be found. They usually flitter about in small groups quite close to the ground and seldom fly even to waist height. They have excellent eye-sight and like butterflies are very agile in flight. Frequently they alight on the ground in a sunny spot, but invariably fly away when approached, only to settle again a few metres distant.

The Synemon species above is around 2 cm (3/4") in body length, and I have only encountered them during October and November, so presume this is the time they breed. Apparently there are over 20 species recorded for Australia, with a similar number yet to be described.