Puriri Moth or Ghost Moth from New Zealand

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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