It’s that time of year, when giant moths give you a fright as they bash on the windows at night trying to get to the inside light. Or they fly through the rain and car headlights and seem to kamikaze into the road surface.
Sadly, I’ve seen service station driveways littered with the bodies of these impressive moths, lured by the bright, all-night lights, only to be squashed en masse by the flow of cars and trucks also lured in by the bright lights. The above image shows these large moths attracted to an outside moth light and sheet (used for attracting and surveying moths for ID). These moths are true goliaths compared to the more numerous smaller moth species and other insects drawn to the light.
These rainy night fliers, commonly known as Ghost Moths, Swift Moths, or rain Moths, belong to the primitive moth Family Hepialidae and Victoria has more than 50 species, many of which have larvae that live most of their lives underground, feeding on plant roots. Then, when conditions are right, they metamorphose and emerge as adults from their underground tunnels during late summer and autumn rains.
Many species are very large and quite a number have this mass emergence of adults coinciding with rain. Differences between species can be subtle and, as with most moth species, the wing pattern is the key to identification .
So far, I’ve recorded about eight species of swift moth here on the Strathbogie Tableland, and there are likely more. There are certainly additional and different species down on the lower slopes and riverine plain around the ranges. You can see more of these moths in iNaturalist, as part of SNAP, the Strathbogie Ranges Nature Atlas – here.
Yes, they’re big, impressive moths, though people often mistakenly assume they’re Bogong Moths (they may make a good meal, though I’ve no info on that).
Thanks, that’s really interesting Bert. I hadn’t realised there were so many different wing patterns & species. I’ll look closer next time, that’s for sure. Would love to spot a Red Gum & Common Splendid !!
At times I can see so many out at work in the early morning,the place is lit up like a Christmas tree.
Was hoping to this morning after last night’s rain, but no, not one.