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Thursday, 25 July 2019

Flight of the Zodiac

In the past couple of months people from around north Queensland have been reporting aggregations of the day-flying Zodiac Moth, Alcides metaurus.

Click on the photo to enlarge

This is a spectacular moth to say the least. Most people think it is a butterfly because it feeds at flowers and behaves somewhat like a butterfly. The moth is a member of the family Uraniidae, a family of often gaudy moths many of which are diurnal. It is a large moth, measuring 50-60 mm across and is active in late afternoons. The caterpillars feed on leaves of the large vine, Omphalea queenslandiae of the family Euphorbiaceae. Judging by the numbers of moths and the extent of the reports of the migrations, these vines should be quite bare by now!

Mass movements of the Zodiac Moth  in north Queensland have been known for years. They always attract attention because the moths rest en masse in selected trees. That is what attracts the attention of the public.
We observed small numbers of the moths in the Daintree and they all seemed to be travelling in a southerly direction.
Thanks to Christina for use of the photo. It was taken at Wondecla, Qld.

2 comments:

Piotr Naskrecki said...

This is fascinating. The green urania (Urania fulgens) in Costa Rica shows a very similar behavior of seasonal migration, related to the steadily increasing amount of secondary compounds in their host plants, a closely related vine Omphalea diantra. They move en masse to new locations where this vine has lower levels of the compounds, only to return after a few years.

paulsmith198914@gmail.com said...

Informative article. I was very interested to know such information. They look like bright flowers.using our service will bring you only advantages How diverse nature is and how good it is that you give the opportunity to see it.