Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some Butterflies and Moths of Robertson district.

Several nights ago I found this Moth on my front verandah - for the very first time.

I believe it is Eudocima materna, The abrupt rise in the line of the wings is quite distinctive. It matches the scalloped-out shape in the upper wings which becomes apparent (over the upper abdomen) when the wings are seen partly opened (second image).

Probably Eudocima materna

Probably Eudocima materna
If it is not that species, then I am pretty confident that it is in that genus. My problem is that the only other species in this Eudocima genus which is shown as entering NSW is Eudocima salaminia, which has quite distinctive (and dissimilar - from my specimen) markings on the upper wings. The other five species shown in Australia (according to Don Herbison-Evans' website) are all tropical moths.

This genus of moths is known as an agricultural pest, known as "fruit piercing moths". Mostly they attack Citrus but they also attack Lychees where those fruit are grown commercially. Their native "host plants" are mostly in the Menispermaceae family, best known in the Illawarra region for the Snake Vine and Pearl Vine.

Switching to the Butterfly tribe I was lucky enough to capture these images yesterday, at Clover Hill Falls track, half way down Macquarie Pass. These Butterflies were quite common along that track, amongst rainforest undergrowth underneath the Eucalypt upper-storey.

Wonder Brown Butterfly - female

What I did not realise at the time was that these dull brown Butterflies are the females of the species (only). They are Wonder Brown Butterflies (Heteronympha mirifica). Apparently the male of this species look like the more normally coloured forms of  "Brown Butterflies" (this term is used informally).
Wonder Brown Butterfly - female
Don Herbison-Evans shows both the males and the females. He says: "For many years it was thought the sexes were from different species, as the males also tend to congregate towards the tops of hills, and the females prefer the moist gullies below". That's why I didn't realise there were distinct males and females, as I was only seeing the females in the moist gullies.

One of the things I noticed about these Butterflies was their habit of sitting with the wings held totally flat.
Wonder Brown Butterfly - female
On the slow walk back along Clover Hill Falls track to the Illawarra Highway, I came across this stunning and dangerous-looking creature. At first I was suspicious that it might have been a Wasp. I have read about these Moths which resemble Wasps, but this was the first time I had seen one close up - close enough for meaningful photos.

The "experts" seem to be very cautious in naming species of these Wasp Moths. But with the small orange dots on the wings, (as distinct from large transparent patches on the wings) this seems the best "fit" in appearance and geographical range (as far as I can check). The Atlas of Living Australia seems to be having service difficulties tonight. 

If any reader can advise me if I am not correct, I would appreciate being set right.

Eressa angustipenna
Click to enlarge image.
You can see the coiled up mouth-parts
(known as a proboscis)
Eressa angustipenna
What an amazing-looking Moth. I think you can see why I was wary of it at first.


Ian said...

Great moth photos and good to see you got photos of the Wonder Brown with open wings, I took a photo of one in N0v. last year but not able to get the open wing shot.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Ian
I had never seen them before, but obviously they are common, just down the escarpment from Robertson.
I have to get back in there more often.
Yes, they were being cooperative. Which is great to see and photograph.

Le Loup said...

Great images, I can never get close enough to butterflys to get images like this.

catmint said...

Hi Denis, how wonderful to find such compliant moths and butterflies to pose for you, and they weren't even mating. That wasp moth is a very clever mimic, his (and her) colourful bodies must help them to sleep easy for sure. cheers, cm

Denis Wilson said...

It was very pleasant in that bit of wet forest. Balmy and quiet.
The Butterflies and moths were very happy and relaxed. That made taking their piccies easier than normal.
Catmint, I like the way you're thinking. Dress like a killer, but bot behave badly, makes for a sweet life.
I might try that out.
I;ll get a Biker's Jacket and a Black Eye Patch.