French mystery moth.
Location:  Montpelier, southern France
July 27, 2010 12:21 pm
My sister recently found this moth in her garden. She lives near Montpelier in southern France. Could you identify it please,as it is not listed in any of my moth reference books.
Nigel Harland

Possibly Fruit Piercing Moth

Hi Nigel,
We believe you may have photographed a Fruit Piercing Moth based on its appearance, though we are not certain if Fruit Piercing Moths are found in France.  Here is a link to an Australian species.  We are posting your letter and photos in the hope that one of our readers can supply any supporting or contradicting information.

Possibly Fruit Piercing Moth

Karl researches the Answer
Hi Daniel and Nigel:
This was very tricky one because it does look like an Underwing or Fruit-piercing Moth – and it is in the wrong hemisphere! I was able to track it down only because it reminded me of a species of Castnia that I photographed in Costa Rica last winter. It is actually a Castniid moth (Castniidae), a small and mostly neotropical family of day-flying moths (a few species in Australia and Asia). They are also called Butterfly Moths and are often mistaken for butterflies. The species is Paysandisia archon and according to Wikipedia:  “It is native to Uruguay and central Argentina and has been accidentally introduced to Europe, where it is spreading rapidly. It is considered the only member of the genus Paysandisia.”  The larvae are palm borers and are considered a serious pest. The spread of this species is being closely tracked in France and several other Mediterranean countries and it is likely that someone may be interested in this sighting. Regards. Karl

Hello Daniel and Karl,
Thankyou both so much for getting a positive identification on this moth, it appears to be quite a rarity.
Thanks again,
Nigel Harland.

3 Responses to Butterfly Moth, not Fruit Piercing Moth

  1. jeremy says:

    i live in southern france and thismorning saw a male and female moth exactly like he one here in the photo

  2. Danni Gallagher says:

    I found this page as I have just had a moth that matches this description in my kitchen last night. Usually I don’t really bother about them as I am actually scared of anything that has wings lol…but when this moth was flying, I thought it looked like a massive Red Admiral (it is about an inch 1/2 long and wingspan has to be about 3ins) but then when it settled and closed its wings, it just looked like a huge regular brown hairy moth. Having read these comments, I feel I still maybe wrong as I live in Surrey in the UK. If there is any connection, the weather has just turned quite cold and is raining heavy and somehow this little fella found his way to my partners 7th floor apartment window?! Its also very lazy – 10pm last night he was flapping around frantically….and now at 15.30 he hasn’t moved from the kitchen door frame since 06.30…which suits me fine as its the partner now who has to do the dinner and make the coffee all day….I’m not going back in there until this creature has moved out!!!!

    • bugman says:

      UK Moths has a page set up for the Butterfly Moth, which is native to South America but introduced to the Mediterranean region. There is no sighting information, which indicates it there is a strong possibility that it could be found in the UK since it has been reported from France. According to the Food and Environment Research Agency: “In August 2002, a large adult moth was observed in a private garden in west Sussex. Martin Honey (Natural History Museum, London) confirmed its identification as the South American palm borer Paysandisia archon Burmeister (Lepidoptera: Castniidae). This was the first discovery of this non-indigenous pest in the UK. Currently on the EPPO Alert List, this serious pest of palms is established in parts of
      Southern Europe. The European Commission are in the process of introducing emergency measures to prevent the further spread of P. archon within the community.”

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