Thursday, February 23, 2012

Erebus Moth

Erebus terminitincta
Here’s a fascinating moth which I saw with friends last week, in vine scrub at Rockmount near Toowoomba.

It was only a matter of luck that we saw it at all, as despite its huge size. That’s a 10cm wingspan!
Its camouflage is amazingly good against the leaf letter.
In the shadows, everything seems to disappear except the semi-circular white marking.

This is a night-flying moth, which hides in the daytime. It attracted the attention of my friends because we disturbed it into flight, but by the time they showed it to me it had settled again. It was some time before I managed to see it, even though they were pointing directly at it from several feet away.
“Erebus” is Latinised from an ancient Greek word (erebos) which meant “shadow”, and was the name of a primordial god of darkness. It’s a lovely name for this huge, secretive moth.
The host for its large, hungry caterpillars is the barbed wire vine. On discovering this my friend remarked - “at long last, a good reason for Smilax australis”!
It’s not the best-loved of native vines, but see below for more about it.

No comments: