Currently viewing the category: "Ghost Moths and Wood Moths"
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moth
Location: Bermagui NSW
November 6, 2011 5:40 pm
Can you please ID this moth. She came in on Nov 1st, laid her eggs on the back of my chair then stayed till she died 5 days later, sad.But what is she?
Signature: Sue

Hawkmoth from Australia

Hi Sue.
We strongly feel this is a Hawkmoth in the family Spingidae, however a species identification is eluding us.  We started searching Butterfly House, and the two best candidates there are the Australian Privet Hawkmoth,
Psilogramma casuarinae, and Synoecha marmorataThe former has the dark markings on the thorax, and the latter has closer wing markings.  Csiro has this image of the latter.  The Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website has this to say about Psilogramma increta:  “Reliably recorded from northeastern China, Japan and Korea, south and east through China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Peninsular Malaysia, to the Greater Sunda Islands; then west through Burma/Myanmar, Nepal and India to Kashmir. It is possible that P. increta extends much further east through the Malay Archipelago and may even reach Australia and the Pacific islands. However, in these latter areas, the features of adult wing colour and pattern that farther west differentiate P. increta from the closely related species, P. menephron, break down and it becomes impossible to reliably distinguish them on this basis. The two species are also identical in genital structure. Mell (1922b) described diagnostic features of larvae and pupae but these have yet to be investigated in eastern populations of Psilogramma.”  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this difficult identification.

Update and Correction
Thanks to a comment from Ryan, we now realize this Hawkmoth imposter is actually a Wattle Goat Moth, one of the Wood Moths in the family COSSIDAE.

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moth
Location: NZ Taupo bush
October 18, 2011 1:56 pm
Hi Bugman,
I am in NZ and have never seen a moth this size before. I was Hunting out of taupo when this moth decided to land on the back of my neck. I thought the world was about to end….can you tell me what sort of moth it is?
Signature: stevo

Puriri Moth

Hi Stevo,
This is one of the Puriri Moths in the Ghost Moth family Hepialidae.  You can compare your individual to this image on New Zealand Tramper.  The Insects and Spiders of New Zealand website profiles the species Aenetus virescens and indicates that “is the largest moth in Aotearoa / New Zealand, and is found only on Te Ika a Māui / North Island.”  There seems to be much variation in the coloration of Puriri Moths posted online, and we are not exactly certain if there are different species or just variation within a single species.  The
Insects and Spiders of New Zealand website also provides this information:  “relatives live in Australia, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea;  caterpillars start life living in a bracket fungus;  older caterpillars make a refuge tunnel in the trunk of a large tree;  caterpillars feed on the wound tissue of the tree around the tunnel entrance, which is concealed by a silken ‘tent’;  pupation occurs in the tunnel;  adult moths do not feed, and live only for a few days;  moths are active at night.”

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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

Wood Moth we believe

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.

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Large Green New Zealand Moth
Location: Waitakere Ranges, Auckland, New Zealand
January 21, 2011 4:56 am
Hi,
Just tonight two of these large green moths flew into my room, one after the other. I have never seen this type of moth before.
Each one was around 75-80mm in length and approximately 100-110mm in wingspan.
After finding this website, I am assuming they are Puriri Moths.
Could you please tell me if they definitely are Puriri Moths.
Thanks,
Signature: John

Puriri Moth

Hi John,
You are absolutely correct.  This is a Puriri Moth or Ghost Moth in the family Hepialidae.  You may read about it on the Insects and Spiders of New Zealand website which indicates the Maori names are:  “pepe tuna; mokoroa, ngutara; pungoungou
“.  Though five or six years are spent as a caterpillar, the adult Puriri Moth only lives about two days and does not feed.

Puriri Moth

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Moth?
Location: Barrington Tops National Park, Australia
November 30, 2010 6:26 pm
Hello,
This insect was found in Gloucester Tops, Australia in November at 1200m. Is it a moth? It was about 50mm in length.
Regards
Signature: Lis

Splendid Ghost Moth

Dear Lis,
This certainly is a moth, but we would need to do some research to identify the species.  We are posting your letter just before going to bed and hopefully we will be able to provide an identification tomorrow.

Karl provides the Identification
Hi Daniel and Lis:
It’s a lovely moth with an appropriately lovely name. It looks like a male Splendid Ghost Moth, Aenetus ligniveren (Hepialidae). It ranges from southern Queensland to Tasmania.  You can also check out here and here for more photos and information. Regards.  Karl

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your assistance in identifying the moth, you have a great site and a very useful facility.
Regards,
Lis

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moth
July 16, 2010
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada
I saw this moth on my deck today and am very curious what it is. I am located in Alberta Canada and have never seen one of these before.
brent

Four Spotted Ghost Moth

Dear Brent,
Alas, we do not recognize your moth.  We discovered a Moths of Canada Website, but we did not have any luck with a proper identification.  We will post your letter and hope one of our readers can assist with this identification.

Four Spotted Ghost Moth

I was on that site too and couldnt find anything, thanks a lot for your help!!! I’ll check your site from time to time and to see if someone knows…thanks again!!!

Thanks so much to Markidavana who provided a comment identifying this Four Spotted Ghost Moth, Sthenopis purpurascens.  Interestingly, when we went to BugGuide to create a link, we found Brent’s photos already posted and identified.  There was not much information on this species on BugGuide, but we did learn that this moth is in a family, Hepialidae,  that has not been represented previously on What’s That Bug? so we created a new category for it.  BugGuide does provide family information, including:  “””to attract females, the male hovers over open ground, sometimes slowly rising and falling [like a ghost]” which is credited to Wikipedia.  BugGuide also indicates:  “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” and “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.”  The Entomology Collection of the University of Alberta website also has some interesting information, including:  “habitat Mature mixedwood and poplar forest, in particular near wetlands.  seasonality Adults fly in Alberta from early July through mid-August, peaking the last half of July. identification Adults are large (6.6-10.0 cm wingspan) long-winged moths that occur in two color forms, purple-grey and yellow-brown. Until recently the yellow-brown form was thought to be a separate species, S. quadriguttatus. The forewings have a darker oblique median band, a darker terminal area and darker spots along the costa. There are two small, silver spots near the wing base. Hindwings are even purple brown or salmon pink, unmarked except for one or two small spots on the outer part of the leading edge. The antennae in both sexes are greatly reduced and hair-like, and separate them from all other large Alberta moths. The similar S. argenteomaculatus (Harris) does not occur in Alberta, and the literature reports for argentomaculatus are errors (Schmidt and Lawrie, 1999). life history Females deposit eggs in the vicinity of the host while in flight. The larvae bore into the roots of poplars, willows or alder where they complete the life cycle. The larvae apparently take two years to complete the lifecycle, and adults in Alberta are more common in odd-numbered years. Mature larvae are about 50-60 cm long, with cream-white bodies, brown heads and brown bases of the setae. The adults are crepuscular and are poorly attracted to light. conservation A fairly common, widespread insect; no concerns. diet info Larvae bore into the roots of poplars (Populus sp.), and to a lesser extent willow (Salix) and alder (Alnus). range Labrador and New York north and west to British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, south in the mountains to Arizona. In Alberta, it is most common throughout the Boreal forest and Aspen Parkland regions, less common in the Foothills and Mountains, and along wooded parts of the valleys in the Grasslands region.”   While writing our book, we did learn this information on a moth in the same family, the Australian Ghost Moth on the University of Florida Book of Insect Records :  “The highest lifetime fecundity among non-social insects appears to be a lepidopteran. An Australian ghost moth female, Trictena atripalpis (Hepialidae), captured at Adelaide, laid 29,100 eggs (Tindale 1932), and when it was dissected 15,000 eggs were found in the ovaries. These moths oviposit while in flight and tend to lay their eggs in the vicinity of the red gumtree (Eucalyptus rostrata), on the roots of which their larvae feed. There are other ghost moths that are larger, which may have an even higher fecundity, but I’ve found no literature on egg number in these species.

Thanks so much for all your help! I couldn’t believe how fast I got an answer about that moth!!! I’ll be sure you use this site again next time I have a question. Thanks!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination