16 April 2010

Moerarchis clathrata - Cloths Moth

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Cloths Moth - Moerarchis clathrata

Moths in the Moerarchis genus belong to the Tineidae family that are collectively known as Cloths or Wool Moths, but only a small number of moths in this family are guilty of that offence. The larvae of Moerarchis clathrata feast on the stumps of dead Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea spp.) and have not the slightest interest in human clothing, so its common name is an unintentional slur on this most attractive small moth (around 1 cm or 3/8” in length).

This species occurs along the south coast of Western Australia, where grasstrees are particularly plentiful in the coastal heath. In the Eastern States where grasstrees are also common, another similar looking Moerarchis species (M. australasiella) occupies this niche. Both have reflective metallic scales, thus making their colours difficult to reproduce with any photographic accuracy, but are most picturesque with the bright orange strongly contrasting with the black, cream and yellow wings.

The Moerarchis clathrata moths are reasonably common and are attracted to house lights after rain during summer and autumn. As adults, they have only a short life as they do not feed, but hopefully will find a mate in order to reproduce in the time available.