Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunset and moths

Yesterday afternoon, while I was working on the computer, a friend rang me to say there was a terrific sunset outside.Normally I see the glow of such events in the late afternoon sky. But with the sun moving well around to the west (not south-west) and my study window facing east, I had not noticed the glow.I rushed out, and knowing how quickly sunsets fade, I grabbed the camera and took 3 quick shots. Thanks to Peter for letting me know.
Later on, there were several species of Moths around - just quietly sitting on the wall of my front porch. None of that crazy buzzing around, as other moths tend to do, in autumn. This is a mid-sized moth, (about an inch long), with shallow "tent" habit of folding its wings. The wings themselves are grey, camouflaged, and very finely fringed at the lower edge. It is not a heavy bodied moth, as, for example, "bogong moths" are. The legs are not hairy, and have some of those very long spikes along them. Contrast that with the very hairy Swift Moth below,

See the fine fringes on the lower edges of the wings.
This one looks to me to bew very similar to Donald Hobern's image of Heteromicta pachytera.
I have no information on this moth, other than that they are in the Pyralidae (or Crambidae) which group are said to be "concealed feeders" - i.e, they hide inside the substance on which they are feeding. As a group, they are referred to as "Webworms, Meal, Flour, & Frass Moths".
I have not seen Swift Moths for more than two weeks. I was starting to believe they only came out in the rain, but last night, there was no rain. There were three of these moths. Two different individuals here. Note the very finely haired legs, and the large antennae, and the thick coating of "fur" over the body (behind the head).
See from the side, you can recognise this moth as one of the Swift Moths which were around several weeks ago. Those Swift Moths were identified by Donald Hobern as Oxycanus dirempta. By local standards, these are very large moths. They sit with their wings in a very steep "tent" formation.

As one of the dominant local plants is the Blackwood Wattle, these moths would appear to have plenty of food for their caterpillars, which burrow into the ground, to feed on the roots of Acacia plants (trees). They are also likely to be the "host" species of caterpillar which gets invaded by Fungus spores, which develop in the "Cordyceps" fungus, which is quite common in this area. If you go to that linked post, you will see "mummified" caterpillars which have large fungi growing out of their now mummified bodies - once the caterpillar has been "consumed" by the invasive hyphae (roots) of the fungus. The caterpillars are typically longer than my fingers. The fungus then is about the size and shape of a cigar.
Another of the weird and wonderful aspects of the Nature of Robertson.

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