Aenetus eximia (Scott, 1869)
(one synonym : Charagia coreeba Olliff, 1895)
Forest Splendid Ghost Moth
HEPIALIDAE,   HEPIALOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley & Peter Marriott


drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott, listed as Phloiopsyche eximia,

Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 2 (1864), Plate 11,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

The Caterpillars of this species are red and hairy, with a buff tussock on the back of each segment. The caterpillars live in tunnels up to a metre in length that they dig down into the trunk and root of their food tree. The entrance is usually within a metre of the ground. The have been found feeding in a wide variety of trees, such as :

  • Australian Sassafras ( Doryphora sassafras, MONIMIACEAE ),
  • Victorian Christmas bush ( Prostanthera lasianthos, LAMIACEAE ),
  • Rose Gum ( Eucalyptus grandis, MYRTACEAE ),
  • Cheese Tree ( Glochidion ferdinandi , PHYLLANTHACEAE ), and
  • Native Hop Bush ( Dodonea viscosa, SAPINDACEAE ).


    pupa, drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott, listed as Phloiopsyche eximia
    ,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations, Volume 2 (1869), Plate 11,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

    The caterpillars pupate in their tunnel. The pupa is off-white with dark brown spots, and a dark brown head, thorax and tail.


    female
    (Photo: courtesy of Dr David G. Hewitt, Melbourne, Victoria)

    The female moths are have green forewings, each with several brown-ringed white spots, particularly near the middle, and several dark brown dashes along the costa. The hindwings are orange with green borders. The abdomen is orange with a green tail. The moths have a wingspan of about 7 cms.


    pair, female on the left, male on the right
    (Photo: courtesy of Ethan Beaver, Tamborine, Queensland)

    The male adult moths have blue-green wings, with a pale yellow diagonal streak on each forewing.


    male, drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott, listed as Phloiopsyche eximia
    ,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations, Volume 2 (1869), Plate 11,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.

    The hind legs of the male moth are interesting, having brownish hairs/scales fanning out from the knees, probably to do with courting.


    Legs of male moth, showing hairy hind knees

    The species is found in wet forest in

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,and
  • Tasmania.


    female
    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)


    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 295.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pls. 1.3, 1.5, 23.3, 23.4, p. 148.

    Axel Kallies,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 6,
    Ghost Moths - HEPIALIDAE and Allies
    ,
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2015, pp. 14-15.

    Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
    Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
    Australian Lepidoptera,
    Volume 2 (1869), p. 8, and also Plate 11.


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    (updated 12 October 2012, 4 April 2018)