Abantiades labyrinthicus (Donovan, 1805)
Labyrinthine Ghost Moth, Swift Moth
(one synonym : Rhizopsyche swainsoni Scott, 1864)
Don Herbison-Evans
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.

(Photo: courtesy of Ken Harris, Morwell Park, Victoria)

The male adult moths have fawn forewings, each with two sometimes broken silver flashes, and labyrinthine markings, particularly along the margin and hind margin. The hindwings are plain brown. 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.

(Photo: courtesy of Ken Harris, Morwell Park, Victoria)

The species is found along the temporate east coast of Australia, including:

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • Tasmania.

    (Photo: copyright Peter Marriott)

    The undersides are have faint versions of the patterns of the upper surfaces.

    (Photo: courtesy of Dianne Clarke, Mapleton, Queensland)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 17.5, p. 150.

    Edward Donovan,
    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.

    Axel Kallies,
    Moths of Victoria - Part 6,
    Ghost Moths - HEPIALIDAE and Allies
    Entomological Society of Victoria, 2015, pp. 12-13, 22-23.

    Buck Richardson,
    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,
    Australian Lepidoptera,
    Volume 1 (1864), pp. 11-14.

    Thomas J. Simonsen,
    Splendid Ghost Moths and their Allies,
    A Revision of Australian Abantiades, Oncopera, Aenetus, Archaeoaenetus and Zelotypia (Hepialidae),
    Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera Volume 12,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, 2018, pp. 3, 26, 43, 47, 51, 55, 57, 60,, 73-75, 190, 213, 233, Plate 6: fig. C, Plate 7: figs. A,B,C, Plate 44: fig. B.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 17 September 2011, 8 April 2017, 7 February 2020)