Synemon plana Walker, 1854
Golden Sun Moth
CASTNIIDAE ,   SESIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Synemon plana
drawing by Arthur G. Butler,

Illustrations of typical specimens of Lepidoptera Heterocera in the collection of the British Museum,
Part 1 (1877), Plate III, fig. 7,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Gerstein Library, University of Toronto.

The Caterpillars of this species are thought to feed on the roots of various grasses ( POACEAE ), including :

  • Short Wallaby Grass ( Rytidosperma carphoides ),
  • Double-jointed Spear Grass ( Austrostipa bigeniculata ), and
  • Chilean Needle Grass ( Nassella neesiana ).

    The caterpillars pupate in silk-lined tunnels beside their foodplant.

    Synemon plana
    (Photo: courtesy of Jenny Holmes, Great Western, Victoria)

    The adult moths have brown forewings with wiggly white circular markings. The hindwings of the male are dark brown. The hindwings of the female are orange with brown markings. The undersides of the female are white with brown margins and spots. The undersides of the male are brown with white markings.

    The females are quite sedentary, and commonly sit displaying their orange hindwings, presumably awaiting discovery by passing males.

    The species has been found in

  • Australian Capital Territory, and
  • Victoria.

    This species is considered to be endangered. Its status is being studied at York Park in Canberra and Mount Piper in Victoria. Attempts are being made to conserve its environment by the University of Melbourne, the CSIRO, the Melbourne Zoo, and the Royal Canberra Golf Club.


    Further reading :

    Michael S. Braby & M. Dunford,
    Field Observations on the ecology of the Golden Sun Moth Synemon plana Walker (Lepidoptera: CASTNIIDAE),
    The Australian Entomologist,
    Volume 33, Part 2 (June 2006), pp. 103-110.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 6.15, 6.16, pp. 284-285.

    Francis Walker,
    Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 1 (1854), p. 37, No. 5.

    Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths, CSIRO Publishing, 2007, pp. 26, 104.


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    (updated 23 April 2013)