Abantiades marcidus Tindale, 1932
Red Gum Ghost Moth
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Abantiades marcidus
(Photo: courtesy of Judy Ormond, Nathalia, Victoria)

The caterpillars of this species are white with a brown head and dark spiracles. The caterpillars are a favoured bait for fishing. They live in vertical tunnels in the ground, which they dig and cap with a hinged lid. The caterpillars feed on the roots of

  • Gum Trees ( Eucalyptus species, MYRTACEAE ).

    The caterpillars ringbark the roots, and the plant responds by growing gall-like tissue on the underground root, upon which the caterpillars then feed.

    The caterpillars pupate at the bottom of their tunnel. The pupa can have a length up to 8 cms. When metamorphosis is complete, the pupa squirms up to the top of its tunnel and pushes itself half out when the adult moth is about to emerge.

    Abantiades marcidus
    (Photo: by Judy Ormond, courtesy of Lyn Loger, Nathalia, Victoria)

    These adult moths are grey-brown with variable white flashes and other more complex markings on the forewings. The hindwings are brown, fading to pale brown at the margins. The males are usually smaller than the females, and have more prominent white markings. Both sexes of moths have unipectinate antennae. The wingspan of the male is up to 12 cms. The wingspan of the female is up to 17 cms.

    Abantiades marcidus
    (Photo: by Judy Ormond, courtesy of Lyn Loger, Nathalia, Victoria)

    The caterpillars, pupae, and adult moths were used as food by the people of the Wirrangu Nation in South Australia.

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

    The species is found in :

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

    Abantiades marcidus
    (Photo: copyright of Brett and Marie Smith, Ellura Sanctuary, South Australia)

    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 17.4, p. 150.

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

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), pp. 36-37.

    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. 25-26, 45, 48, 51, 57, 59, 65-66,188, 212, 230, Plate 2: figs. A and B.

    Norman B. Tindale,
    Revision of the Australian Ghost Moths (Lepidoptera Homoneura, Family Hepialidae) ,
    Records of the South Australian Museum,
    Volume 4, Part 4 (1932), pp. 515-517, figs. 31-34.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 24 May 2010, 28 November 2016, 31 March 2019, 30 March 2020, 10 April 2021)