Ed. Note:  April 21, 2013
While we believe much of the information here is correct, we believe the family to be Hepialidae, not Cossidae.  Check Csiro for verification.

Canberra moth
Location: Bruce, Canberra
January 28, 2012 7:13 pm
Last night we found a massive moth on our porch, it was about 10cm in length and weighed about 45 grams. We were worried that our cats might think it would make a nice snack so decided to move it. It jumped onto my hand and was heavy and warm. We put it in a tree. We were worried it might not survive the move…..this morning we got up to check on the moth….and it had met up with another moth
Signature: Mel

Ghost Moth from Australia

Dear Mel,
We are pretty certain that you had an encounter with a Ghost Moth in the family Cossidae, possibly
Endoxyla leucomochla which is pictured on the Butterfly House website.  The caterpillar is a wood borer that is called a Witchetty Grub, though alternate spellings include:  “Witjuti, Witchedy, Wichetty, Witchety, witchjetti”.  According to Butterfly House:  “The adult is a large finely mottled grey moth, with wings suffused with rusty red towards the bases, and with a wingspan of about 16 cms. It has degenerate mouthparts, and so cannot feed. It relies for energy totally on the nourishment taken in by the Caterpillar earlier in its life.”  We would not discount that it might be some other member of the genus as they all look quite similar.  There are many possibilities pictured on Butterfly House

Mating Ghost Moths

According to the Brisbane Insect website, Ghost Moths are also called Wood Moths and:  “Moths in the family Cossidae are from large to very large size. They have long and narrow wings like those of Hawk moths. They are mostly brown or grey in colours. Most have the inverted “U” shape on thorax. When rest, they held their wings roof-wise. The adult moths in this family do not feed so their mouth parts are largely reduced.”  While he was researching his book, The Curious World of Bugs, Daniel learned that an Australian Ghost Moth has the record number of eggs laid for a non-social insect, 29,100.

Mating Ghost Moths

Thank you so much for your speedy reply – I got a little bit addicted to your website today.  I actually think it is a Wattle Goat Moth (Endoxyla affinis) – I have some even better photos now (they spent alot of time mating in our garden and it was easier to get good pics in the arvo) – anyway, let me know if you want me to send them through. What an amazing pair they were.

Hi again Mel,
The Wattle Goat Moth,
Endoxyla affinis, did occur to us as another possibility.  We would love to post one or two better images.

Ghost Moth

Here a some photos of both the male and female moth…..I think the female was the bigger one and had a very active scent gland which I took a photo of, the male had some blue on his head. Big storm last night and both moths have gone now 🙁

Ghost Moth

Thanks for sending additional photos Mel.  We hope they will contribute to a positive species identification.  The close-up photo appears to be a sexual organ.

detail of a Ghost Moth

The newest image you sent of the mating pair is also a nice addition.

Mating Ghost Moths



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Location: Australia

8 Responses to Mating Ghost Moths from Australia

  1. James Lindley says:

    Moth (dead). Brown 90mm long body, 22mm thick body covered in white fur, 120mm overall but ends of wings damaged. Wing span estimated, 200mm plus. I am from the bush I have never seen such a huge moth. I wish I could send photographs.

    • bugman says:

      We wish you could send photographs as well. These large Australian Moths are truly fascinating creatures.

      • James Lindley says:

        Please give me an e-mail address and I will send photographs. Or you might be able to open my facebook page, James Lindley photo in an orange SES uniform.

      • James Lindley says:

        Please give me an e-mail address and I will send photographs. Or you might be able to open my facebook page, James Lindley photo in an orange SES uniform.

  2. leiden says:

    So excited i found this page. I came across one this morning at the train station it was sitting on the steps so i got some photos of it. I’d love to send them. Such a pretty moth. Cute little face. Reminds me of a flying fox

  3. James Lindley says:

    Where Leiden? Where did you find it, London, Paris, New York. I found mine in Rockhampton Queensland. I would very much like to post a photo. Why can’t we post photos on this page? I am on f/b.

  4. Wendy says:

    I have a video of what I think may be a hawk or ghost moth laying her eggs. Please let me know your email address so I can send to you. Do you know if the larvae damage trees when they bore into them. Worried about my tree now I know how many eggs there are!

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