Swift Moths: The image on the left is not the skin shed by a visitor from another galaxy. It is the pupae case of a large moth that visits our family room door at certain times of the year. Swift Moths (probably Abantiades sp.) are large insects and adults may have a wingspan of 15 centimetres. The larvae feed on the roots of eucalypts and other native plants. They pupate just below the ground surface.
When there is a reasonable fall of rain in late summer or autumn, the pupa push two thirds of the way out of the ground. The case splits and the moth emerges. They are attracted to light and on one occasion literally dozens of moths clustered on our family room door. We closed the curtains so the moths could get on with their lives.
The Swift Moths at Yallaroo have a wingspan of about 10 centimetres and have brown wings and body. As we wander around the property we often find pupa cases either lying on the ground or sticking out of the ground. Aboriginal people used to roast and eat Swift Moth bodies especially along the Murray River.
As with many Australian insects little is known about Swift Moth life cycles. It is reputed that the females, of one species lay up to 18,000 eggs (someone was busy counting).
Images of mature Swift Moths may be seen on our Week 3 May 2009 article.
We would be interested in hearing from anyone with knowledge of these interesting insects or any others discussed in our web pages. Yallaroo@actv8.net.au is our new email address.