Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, October 03, 2011

Vine Moth on Diuris pardina - the "Leopard Orchid"

On Saturday I went back to Medway to get better images of the Diuris pardina (the Leopard Orchid) flowering over there (as promised).
Diuris pardina - the Leopard Orchid
The first thing I found was a large Day-flying Moth, a Grapevine Moth, (Phalaenoides glycinae) apparently feeding on one of the Orchid flowers. Given the size and position of the Moth, it was attempting to feed, not attempting pseudo-copulation with the Orchid.
Grapevine Moth attempting to feed on the Diuris flower
Here it is in close-up view.
Note how the flower bends over under the
unexpected weight of such a chunky Moth.
Grapevine Moth on Diuris pardina - cropped image

Wings of the Grapevine Moth

Head, legs and body of the Grapevine Moth

Front on view of  Diuris pardina (note the wide lateral lobes)
Side view of Diuris pardina
A different flower of Diuris pardina (note the pointed "lateral lobes")
Diuris pardina - note the fine dots of brown on the rear of the "ears"
Don Herbison-Evans' wonderful moths website has the following note about the Grapevine Moth (which is a pest species in Australia). He says: "The Indian Myna ( Acridotheres tristis ) was introduced into Australia in 1862 to deal with a number of insect pests including the Vine Moth. In this it was unsuccessful, and indeed the bird is now itself a considered a pest in many parts of Australia." 
DJW note: the "Indian Myna" is now known as "Common Myna".

We haven't learnt much about biological control agents, have we?
CSIRO is demonstrating a "blind spot" on this subject, claiming lots of success stories. Presumably they mean their own successes - not claiming success for Biological Pest Controls in general.
No mention of the Cane Toad, or the Indian Myna, or the Gambusia - the mis-named Mosquito Fish which do not eat Mosquito larvae, but which have become a pest of plaque proportions in Australia.


Wilma said...

The grapevine moth is a most beautiful pest!

Flabmeister said...

G'day Denis

I think I have wondered greatly about the ID of this moth over the past year. If my memory is correct - an increasingly unlikely event - I saw them here several times.

From my reading of DH-E's site the moth is a native (at least he is silent on it being introduced) so has prior claim on the vineyards.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Wilma - Thanks.
Yes, it is a pretty beast.
Apparently it is spreading to other countries.
It is classed as a pest here, but a home-grown pest.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin.
We all seem to assume that "pest" means introduced.
I had used the term "pest", following the main sources, but the penny had not dropped that it is a home-grown pest species.
But in fact, you are right - it is indigenous.
For the record, I had not declared it to be "introduced" (I made such a mistake once before on the Citrus Butterfly). But I had "assumed" it was introduced, because of the "pest status".
Apparently it has escaped overseas, and is now an "introduced pest" in South Africa and Canada. Its interesting to see the boot on the other foot for once.
There is another Moth called the European Vine Moth, which is not here.
But, there is another named the Painted Vine Moth which is in the Chew family's Brisbane Insects website. It is also mainly Australian, but includes Papua New Guinea.
Seeing as Grapevines themselves are introduced here, it seemed reasonable to assume that this Moth was itself introduced. But no.
We have some plants like the Cissus genus which are in the Vitaceae family. These vines are common along the east coast moist forests. So, it seems we were "ripe for a population explosion" of this moth, once we introduced Grape Vines, and planted them everywhere we live.
Hardly seems fair to declare it a "pest" when we have brought it to "pest" status ourselves, by planting Grapevines - to suit our own purposes.
Thanks (I think) for pushing me to refine the topic somewhat.
Incidentally, like many Day-flying Moths, it tends to seem to flutter, and be quite unusual in its behaviour, compared to Butterflies. As such, it is memorable as "different" - so your vague memory is probably, in fact, accurate.