Christmas Bells

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Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, July 15, 2013

Moth weekend in Canberra

On the weekend before last, I went to the Australian National Insect Collection, (part of CSIRO) at Black Mountain, in Canberra.
They had invited a group of professionals and some amateurs like me, to a weekend where we could meet other Moth-ers, and exchange notes, get to know eachother, and also, of course, have access to the "Collection".
Marianne Horak and Ted Edwards and Youning Su were there from ANIC, as well as Dave Rentz, a former CSIRO entomologist, and many other experts.

In addition to posing for a group photo, we also went to lunch at the Botanic Gardens (ANBG) Cafeteria, and I took a few "happy snaps".
John Landy, (former Governor of Victoria)
(facing camera, on left)
a keen amateur entomologist,
with Don Sands (close to camera, centre)
with the Kuranda "gang" of Entomologists,
Dave Rentz, Buck Richardson and Max Moulds

cabinets holding the ANIC Lepidopteran collection

some of the Library reference books

These Swift Moths are common at my place, in winter,
especially on wet nights.
Oxycanus dirempta specimens
showing variability between individuals

Specimens of a Butterfly from Asia
which has recently been recorded in Darwin
"Tawny Coster"

Specimens of a Butterfly from Asia
which has recently been recorded in Darwin
"Tawny Coster"

Post Script: Dave Rentz also has written about the Mothing weekend, with lots of nice photos as well.

Post Script 2: Len Willan sent me a Paper by Ted Edwards re two newly described species of Hepialids from the Kosciuszko National Park:  "Two new species of Oxycanus Walker (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) from Kosciuszko National Park, one with a sub-brachypterous female" Edward D Edwards and Ken Green. Australian Journal of Entomology (2011) 50, 78–85:

I was particularly interested in the comments about weather and Oxycanus, as I have observed a very obvious weather-related pattern in their appearances at my place - they fly on rainy nights, especially, in May and June.
  • Introductory notes on both new species:  "In this and other species of Oxycanus adult emergence is closely timed to weather fronts (Helson 1970; Common 1990) and this simplified the search for males."
  • (Oxycanus oreades) Biology. Like other Australian species of Oxycanus the larvae and pupae live in tunnels underground and the adults emerge mostly on a single night, at a closely similar date each year and timed to coincide with the passage of a westerly or south-westerly weather front producing rain and a rapid drop in temperature.
  • (Oxycanus oressigenes) Biology. The species has a similar general biology to O. oreades except that the female is fully winged. Adult females were found on 15 March 2009 and 6 March 2010 in daylight following or during rain resting on a dense sward of Poa costiniana accompanied by loose pupal shells, but almost all the males were taken at light in rain. O. oressigenes flies with the first rains after about the beginning of March, and into April if no suitable rain occurs during March.
So, my notes about the Swift Moths at my house appearing during rainy nights clearly fits a well-established pattern (of which I was blissfully unaware until today). Thanks again to Len Willan.

That all confirms the wonderful co-operation demonstrated amongst the "Moth-ers" of Australia, and the value of such gatherings as the ANIC Mothing weekend.

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