Currently viewing the category: "Ghost Moths and Wood Moths"
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Subject: Unusual Bug
Location: Rochester, NY
June 19, 2014 11:38 am
I saw this yesterday at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.
By looking online I can see that it is very similar to a Giant leopard moth, but with some significant differences.
The one I saw has black spots instead of black circles, and notice how the body protrudes behind the wings.
It is also less than 2″ long.
Any ideas?
Signature: Thanks, Doug

Leopard Moth

Leopard Moth

Dear Doug,
Though the Giant Leopard Moth, which is one of the Tiger Moths, and your Leopard Moth,
Zeuzera pyrina, look similar, they are not even closely related.  Your Leopard Moth is in the Carpenter Moth family Cossidae, and according to BugGuide:  “Unlike the Giant Leopard Moth, this one is not native to the US. Supposedly introduced (from its native Europe?) in mid-1800s; first reported in North America at Hoboken, New Jersey in 1882.  It is considered a pest of some fruit trees.”  You can compare your image to this image on BugGuide.

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Comment
Location:  Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
January 19, 2014
I don’t know if this mail will get to you Daniel.
I attach some photo’s of the moth. I live in Rockhampton Queensland and I have lived in the bush for a number of years and I have never seen such a big moth. I live in the city now.
James

Wood Moth

Ghost Moth

Hi James,
Thanks for providing a comment on a Ghost Moth posting and also for sending your photo.  We are uncertain if this is a Ghost Moth in the family Hepialidae or a Wood Moth in the family Cossidae.  Both are large moths that have tree boring caterpillars sometimes called Witchity Grubs in Australia.

My goodness Daniel,
You have certainly expanded my education. Witchity Grubs I certainly know, and yes, I did eat one. One was enough for my tender stomach. They are a large white grub, a bit over an inch and a quarter in length and about a half an inch in diameter. But I never even thought that they would/could turn into anything else except be grubs.
They usually live under the bark of dead/rotting fallen trees or stumps. Do they turn into anything else, like a “chrylist” or however you spell it before they emerge as a moth?  If so, what would I look for to recognise them?
If you live in Australia, I will post the moth to you if you give me an address. If you live overseas, it might be unlawful to post it.
Anyway, I have never seen a moth even half as big as this one. The biggest flying beetles I have seen are the Elephant or Rhinoceros; That might be a local name for them. This moths’ body is at least twice as long as those beetles.
If you know of any person in Rockhampton Queensland that is knowledgeable about moths, I will try to get them to identify it.
Thank you for your kindness in answering my mail.
James

Hi again James,
The Witchety Grub does have a pupa stage prior to emergence as a moth.  We are not in Australia, but rather, in Los Angeles, California.  We have already posted the image of the moth you sent and it is live on our website.  We don’t understand the unlawfulness of posting the image because we are overseas.

haha. No Daniel, I meant that I would post the dead moth to you if posting it to you is legal and if you want me to post it to you.
Jimlin

Thanks for the offer, but we do not accept specimens.

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Subject: Moth Identification
Location: Barrington Tops, NSW
December 11, 2013 3:04 pm
My wife and I were camping recently near Barrington Tops NSW and came across an enormous moth which we would like to identify.
The moth was quite docile and as it had landed on a temporary structure which was about to be taken down my wife carefully picked it up and we moved it to a nearby tree. The moth’s abdomen was pumping and it appeared to be about to lay eggs, it was quite heavy according to my wife.
Signature: Happy Camper

Giant Wood Moth

Giant Wood Moth

Dear Happy Camper,
We believe your moth is in the family Cossidae, the Wood Moths or Miller Moths, and we believe your individual is the Giant Wood Moth,
Endoxyla cinereus, which has the distinction, according to the Australian Museum website, of being “the heaviest moth in the world, with some females weighing up to 30 grams.”  The Australian Museum elaborates on the life cycle:  “The larvae of some species of wood moths are better known as witchetty grubs and bore into smooth-barked eucalypt trees. As they grow, the tunnels left behind in the bark increase in width. They may spend up to one year within the tree before emerging as moths. The newly emerged, small caterpillars lower themselves to the ground on silky threads where they are thought to feed on plant roots. As adults they are unable to feed and only live for a few days. The heavy females lay about 20,000 tiny eggs before dying.”  Csiro also has a photo of the Giant Wood Moth.  The distinctive striped legs are evident in the photo of the living specimen posted to Butterfly House which states:  “The adult moths have a variable vague pattern of light and dark grey or brown on the wings, including a darker spot near the middle of each forewing. The forewings each have a sinusoidal inner margin, and the hindwings a convex inner margin. The moths are very large. The females are larger than the males, and have a wingspan up to 23 cms.”  The family page on Butterfly House notes that caterpillars of moths in this family are wood borers known as Witchetty Grubs.  Witchetty Grubs are edible.

Giant Wood Moth

Giant Wood Moth

Hi Daniel,
Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my query and for providing such a wealth of information.
Happy Holidays!
Curtis & Ingrid Brager

 

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Subject: Moth – Cossidae?
Location: Armidale, NSW
April 21, 2013 1:53 am
Hi,
Are you able to identify the family of this moth? I originally thought it was Cossidae but then it also looks like it could be Hepialidae or Notodontidae or something else. It was found in Armidale, NSW, in Australia, in March (Autumn).
Thanks.
Signature: Sarah

Ghost Moth or Wood Moth?

Ghost Moth or Wood Moth?

Dear Sarah,
For years we have been mixing up Hepialidae and Cossidae, and we have them lumped together in our archive under Ghost Moths and Wood Moths.  This is a beautifully mounted specimen and we imagine getting the correct identification is especially important to you.  We would recommend that you contact a local natural history museum for assistance.  Please get back to us if you get a proper identification.

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Subject: MOTH
Location: Westdale Western Australia
April 19, 2013 5:46 am
Hi
We found this large grey moth on the ground at our property in Westdale. It was about 12cm long. Just wondering if you could please tell me what it is. Much appreciated.
Signature: Thanks Michelle

Swift Moth

Swift Moth

Dear Michelle,
This appears to us to be a Swift Moth or Ghost Moth in the family Hepialidae.  The Csiro website has photos that indicate it might be
Avantiades labyrinthicus or a closely related species.  Photos on Dave’s Garden and the Morwell National Park website support that ID.  Though BugGuide is dedicated to North American species, these remarks about the family Hepialidae should also pertain to your moth:  “Explanation of Names Ghost Moth – to attract females, the male hovers over open ground, sometimes slowly rising and falling [like a ghost] (wikipedia.org)  Swift Moth – adults are rapid fliers” and “Early instar larvae feed on plant detritus, decaying wood, or fungi; later instars bore into roots or stems of woody plants, or feed on moss, and the leaves of grasses and other herbaceous plants.
Some adults cannot feed because they lack mouthparts.”
  BugGuide also notes:  “Considered a ‘primitive’ moth because of a combination of adult and larval characters. Adult moths lack a strong wing coupling mechanism and instead use a “jugum”, which is a thumb like projection between fore- and hindwings. Wings do not remain coupled while in flight. While present in other primitive lepidoptera, the exact function remains speculative. This feature is often strongly, and best, developed in the Hepialidae. Adults also have reduced or sometimes absent mouthparts.”  Finally, the Strathbogie Ranges Nature View website has a very nice posting on the Swift Moth including a link to this wonderful old article from a 1947 edition of The Tasmanian Naturalist.

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Subject: Strange Bug in my veranda
Location: India
January 17, 2013 7:05 am
I found this strange bug between my flower pots in the eve ! Dunno wat its called but am curious !u
Signature: Creepyluv

Unknown Moth

Dear Creepyluv,
This is a Moth, but we are uncertain of the family.  Though it superficially resembles a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae, the antennae are too hairlike for that to be the correct family.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to write in with a correct identification.

Karl provides an identification: Carpenter Moth
Hi Daniel and Creepyluv:
It is a Carpenter Moth (Cossidae) in the subfamily Zeuzerinae and genus Xyleutes, probably X. persona. The species can be found throughout much of south and southeast Asia, from India to Papua New Guinea and possibly Australia. The larvae are wood borers but the species does not appear to be a significant threat to forestry or agriculture. Regards.  Karl

Thanks so much for your assistance Karl.  While unsuccessfully searching for an identity, we tried locating images of Wood Moths from India with no luck.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination