Thursday, March 8, 2012

Moths of Monash

Hey ya'll 

If you have known me for quite some time now, you will probably know that I have something of a propensity for finding strange things, especially creepy crawlies, in the most unlikeliest of places. Truth is, these places are in no way "unlikely" at all. Insects, both minuscule and prominent, beautiful and drab, inhabit the world around us all the time. It is simply a matter of bothering to look! My current workplace at Monash University, for instance, has proven to be quite the spot for insects, and one of the most prolific and wonderful of the multitude of bugs that somehow find their way here are the moths. Whether it is the location of our university, or perhaps the way in which the wind blows, scores of moths somehow find their way trapped in the various building blocks on campus. Usually they can be found, fluttering against the tall glass windows that flank the first two floors of the stairwell leading up to my office, other times in resting position on the glass windows of the library. Be that as it may, the month of March has proven to be especially fruitful for moth-hunting. Indeed a fellow lepidopterist and friend of mine has often remarked that March is the best time for moths in Malaysia, and this statement has been proven quite true if the sudden influx in the variety of moths that find their way here is anything to go by. It seems almost a pity, however, that because I do not possess the necessary sized pins with which to spread their wings, that I have been forced to limit myself to the medium and large sized moths, but I really do not mind so much as I do not quite see myself possessing anything near a substantial moth collection in the near or far future. It is undeniable, however, how beautiful some of these are.

I have seen at least two of the three moths in the pictures before but their latin name seems to be escaping me for the time being. Off the top of my head though, I can identify for you that the last of the three moths (the one with the swallowtails) is from the family uraniidae. The first moth, I am told is really a diurnal species nyctemera adversata and is extremely widespread (it is found from here all the way up to the Himalayas. As for the moth in the middle with the transparent patches on its wings, it is possible (and I say possible, because I cannot be sure) that it is from the family notodontidae as it seems to exhibit the basic wing shape, resting pattern and cryptic coloration of the family. Here is a picture of it when it was still alive.

It's amazing, how many ways evolution can make a creature look like a piece of dead leaf or twig.


Brittanie said...

I have no clue on the first 2 either. Although the last one I was going to guess either Uraniidae or Geometridae.

I wonder have you seen any of the Sematuridae? Can't remember if Lyssa zampa is of them or not but I remember somewhere mentioning they're in Geometriinae

Cyren said...

Hi Brittanie

a friend of mine confirmed that my last moth is uraniidae but there are so may kinds of them and subspecies etc. that he can't remember off the bat which one it is either. How unfortunate.

Lyssa zampa, hmmm I think they are under uraniidae as well. I have not seen any live sematurids around, but I understand that some of them look remarkably like swallowtail butterflies or uraniid moths. There's a particular specimen that is exceptionally beautiful. Sematura luna/selene, if I'm not mistaken.