Labyrinthine Ghost Moth, Swift Moth
(one synonym : Rhizopsyche swainsoni Scott, 1864)
HEPIALIDAE , HEPIALOIDEA
Peter Marriott & Stella Crossley
drawing by Harriet and Helena Scott, listed as Rhizopsyche swainsoni,
Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 1 (1864), Plate 4,
image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Australian Museum.
The Caterpillars of this species are off-white, with a brown head and a pale brown prothorax. The caterpillars are found in tunnels underground, which can be as deep as 1 metre. The caterpillars are thought to feed on tree roots, and grow to a length of about 11 cms. The caterpillars pupate in the bottom of their tunnel.
The male adult moths are brown with two silver flashes on each forewing. These flashes can be broken or fused. The male moths have a wingspan of about 10 cms. The females are similar but are larger: with a wing span of about 16 cms. The moths have unipectinate antennae.
The species is found along the temporate east coast of Australia, including:
The undersides are have faint versions of the patterns of the upper surfaces.
Further reading :
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 17.5, p. 150.
General Illustration of Entomology,
An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of New Holland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Otaheite
and other Islands in the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans,
London (1803), p. 171, and also Plate on p. 170.
Moths of Victoria - Part 6,
Ghost Moths - HEPIALIDAE and Allies,
Entomological Society of Victoria, 2015, pp. 12-13, 22-23.
Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 95.
Harriet, Helena, and Alexander W. Scott,
Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations,
Volume 1 (1864), pp. 11-14.
(updated 17 September 2011, 8 April 2017)