What’s this bug?
Location: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
January 30, 2011 5:44 am
Hi, thanks for the website. I snapped this very large moth in my back yard in suburban Hobart, Tasmania, the coldest (and island) state of Australia. We are in the middle of summer and it was a warmish night of about 15 degrees celcius. I have not been able to find any information online about this moth except that it resembles many of the hepialidae family. I have seen one of a similar size in the bush but this sighting was a first around the city. Hobart is surrounded by mountains & bush so the wilderness is never very far away from suburbia.
Signature: Bug info
Dear Bug info,
Our first impression, because of the long narrow wings, was that this was a Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae, but after a brief moment, we revised our opinion in alignment with your speculation. We agree that this interesting specimen resembles the Ghost Moths or Swift Moths in the family Hepialidae, but like you, we have not been able to find any matching images on Csiro which includes this wonderful Hepialidae slide show. We could not find a match on the Moths of Australia Hepialidae page either. We then researched our original impression, but there are no matching images on the Moths of Australia Sphingidae page either.
The large body of this specimen inclines us to believe it is a female full of eggs. When Daniel was researching his book, The Curious World of Bugs, a Ghost Moth from Australia was discovered to hold the record for the most eggs laid by an insect that was not social since Ants, Bees and Termites can lay millions of eggs over the course of the queen’s life. Here is that bit of information courtesy of the Book of Insect Records published online by the University of Florida: “An Australian ghost moth, Trictena atripalpis (see Moths of Australia), is the insect with the highest recorded fecundity among nonsocial species. One female was reported to lay 29,100 eggs, and when dissected, 15,000 fully developed eggs were found in the ovaries.“ We remain puzzled by this identification and we hope a reader will come to our assistance.
Update with Identification
We just received three comments from a reader who supplied this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/psykepinky/3347804907/ of a Wood Moth that looks identical to this amazing creature. When we finish preparing Beoff Bourgenon (or however you spell Beef Burgandy in French), we will update this posting better.