To date we have 17 different species of moths in the family Arctiidae recorded in Tarra-Bulga National Park.
“Arctiidae is a large family of moths with around 11,000 species found all over the world. This family includes the groups commonly known as tiger moths (or tigers). Tiger moths usually have bright colours, footmen (which are usually much drabber), lichen moths and wasp moths. Many species have ‘hairy’ caterpillars which are popularly known as woolly bears or woolly worms. The scientific name refers to this (Gk. αρκτος = a bear). ”
With the rise of information technology and social media there is now an assortment of worthy projects that volunteers or “citizen scientists” can join in with. One of the best in our estimation is www.bowerbird.org.au which is a wonderful tool for uploading any photos of flora or fauna that you may encounter. Not only can other users of Bowerbird assist you by using their knowledge to aid you with the identification of unfamiliar sightings you upload. Once fully identified to species level the sightings are then included as permanent records on the Atlas of Living Australia (ala.org.au) and which has an online searchable database with an amazing range of features, Bowerbird now has over forty thousand species records with peoples’ images from across Australia loaded onto the site and in its own right has virtually become a free online field guide.
Bowerbird users come from all over Australia with a strong representation from people in Gippsland so it is a great way of seeing what other local people are finding including a range of fascinating insects and fungi. There is the opportunity to create your own projects on Bowerbird and henceforth we have created a project for Tarra-Bulga National Park. To date we have around 320 sightings uploaded and identified with 5 different contributors. Morwell National Park also has a project which impressively has now over 1200 diverse records. So if you are a budding naturalist or just like looking at cool images of things like fungi, plants and insects check out http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/5665/sightings and if you feel inclined please feel free to add your own.
A few night time visits to the park to get a better idea of the night flying insects that live in Tarra-Bulga have been reaping rewards. Here are just a few highlights of what is flying or crawling about our tall forests. All sightings are being uploaded to our project on www.bowerbird.org.au where they can hopefully be identified and then placed on the the Atlas of Living Australia and become a permanent record in their searchable online database.
On the 8/2/2016 following one of our group meetings at Balook , outside the visitors centre just after sunset I hung out a white sheet with a UV light in the hope of finding a few interesting insects to photograph and potentially upload on to our “Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park” project on http://www.Bowerbird.org.au. The conditions were windier than ideal but an interesting array of creatures did land on the sheet including a medium sized brownish moth with distinctive white spots on its forewings, it landed without fanfare and hung around just long enough for me to take a quick photo.
Back home the next day, I consulted Peter Marriott’s book Moths of Victoria and after much head scratching and flicking back and forward between pages I managed at last to find what I thought could be match, a species called Chrysolarentia pantoea or the “Variable Carpet Moth”.
In Moths of Victoria, photos of this moth are of preserved museum specimens captured in the Otways and Lamington National Park (on the Queensland/NSW border). Peter writes in his book that no specimens of this moth could be found in collections taken between these two sites. He did predict that other populations of this moth could be established in cool temperate rainforest or other similar natural habitats.
As I was not 100% confident with my identification and thought this sighing could be of interest, I contacted Peter who to my satisfaction agreed that I was correct and it was in fact Chrysolarentia pantoea, that I had managed to photograph. Remarkably he said that it was the first time to his knowledge that this species has been recorded in Victoria since the last museum specimen had been captured near Lorne way back on the 8/2/1907. That is exactly 109 years to the day between sightings!