Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An interesting moth on my front porch

Two nights ago, just as I was shutting down for the night, well after midnight, I noticed this interesting moth on my front verandah. I managed to snap a few images of it.
I did what I often do, and wandered through numerous photos of moths on the Internet, and guess (wrongly as it turned out) that it might have been a member of the Thaliana genus, as several moths I found in that group had similar strong triangulated markings like my moth.
Thanks to advice from the moth forum which Duncan kindly set up a little while back, I can now report that this moth is named Fodina ostorius, of the Catocalinae (sub-family), which puts it into the Noctuidae family. Thanks to Ian McMillan for setting me straight on this.

This link will take you to "Australian Moths Online" - the general gallery page. You need to search by moth name, or genus, or family. But the gallery is a valuable resource, to search for "similar" moths - not that such "look-alike" searches are reliable (as I discovered). I would not have arrived at a correct ID, without help from an experienced person such as Ian.
Here is the specific link to this species: Fodina ostorius.

From Don Herbison-Evans' Moths and Caterpillars site (the scientific name index page), I was able to search by specific name, and went straight to this page. The advantage here is that it has a photo of a live moth, as well of a preserved specimen. It is clearly a perfect match for my moth.

Don often has some notes about preferred food plants of the speciific Caterpillars. In this case, it shows the Milk Vine, Marsdenia as a preferred food plant. The local Robertson Rain Forest is well supplied with Marsdenia vines, so it makes sense that I should have been visited by this moth.The colouration on the body of this moth is a frequently used 'warning signal" (such as of a wasp or a bee). I have no idea if it is indeed a poisonous moth. It is more likely that it is the commonly adopted "Batesian Mimicry" where a palatable species resembles an unpalatable species, or one with a sting, or poison. Personally, I have no desire to test this theory, but will not eat any moth which looks like a wasp, no matter how fat and tasty it might be in reality.


Jarrett said...

Beautiful moth, but I won't eat it either. Happy new year!

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Jarrett
I was pleased to find this moth, instead of lots of tiny nondescript things, which are so hard to identify that they annoy me. They also tend to swarm around.

For some reason, with moths I am inclined to say only the beautiful ones should be permitted to exist. However, that is a dangerous philosophy, (if extended to people).