Tuesday, May 18

Giant wood moth: ‘very heavy’ insect rarely seen by humans in an Australian school | Queensland


A giant moth with a wingspan of up to 25 cm has been found in a Queensland school next to a rainforest.

Builders encountered the giant wood moth, the world’s heaviest moth, while building new classrooms at Mount Cotton State School.

Giant wood moths are found along the Queensland and New South Wales coastline, according to the Queensland Museum. Females can weigh up to 30 grams and have a wingspan of up to 25 cm. Males are half that size.

They have an extremely short life cycle and adults live for only a matter of days. They die after mating and laying eggs.

The school’s principal, Meagan Steward, said the moth was “an amazing find.”

Steward said that due to the location of the school it was not unusual to find a variety of animals on the grounds, such as wild turkeys, wallabies, koalas, ducks, the occasional snake and once a turtle in the library. “A giant wood moth was not something we had seen before,” he said Wednesday.

Giant wood moth
Giant wood moths are found along the coast of Queensland and New South Wales. Females can weigh up to 30 grams and have a wingspan of up to 25 cm. Photo: Mount Cotton State School / Facebook

ABC’s new initial report and photos of the moth generated so much media interest that the school was forced to direct questions about the moth to the Queensland department of education.

Chris Lambkin, curator of entomology at the Queensland Museum, said that giant wood moths, or Endoxyla cineraIt can be found from the Queensland coast to southern New South Wales. While not uncommon, humans rarely saw them, he said.

Lambkin said this was likely due to several factors, including the short lifespan of adult moths and the fact that most people lived in urban areas where the invertebrate was not found.

“Female moths don’t fly very well either,” he said.

“So most people, if they see one, they have emerged as an adult and have climbed on a tree trunk or a fence post and are waiting for the male to come. Normally people don’t see them with their wings outstretched, so you don’t realize how big they are, but if you actually lift them up, they weigh a lot. “

Like tiny caterpillars, invertebrates have purple and white bands and pierce the trunks of smooth-bark eucalyptus trees in parks and gardens. They lose the bands as they grow into larger larvae.

Lambkin said adult female moths do not feed and live on stored fats as larvae as they feed inside the tree trunk.

“The first time we see them is when they are more than 2.5 cm long and thick as a pencil,” he said.

The entomologist said little was known about the first year of the larval stage, which lasts about three years. Adult female moths can be up to 15 cm long.

There are around 60 species of wood moth in Australia, according to the Queensland Museum, but not all are as large as the giant wood moth and not all of them feed on eucalyptus trees.

The builders took a photo of their find before returning the moth to the rainforest.

The class of 4-5 in the new building was asked to develop a creative writing concept after they were shown a picture of the moth and decided to write about a moth invasion. “The students wrote some very creative and imaginative pieces of writing, including Mrs. Wilson being eaten by the giant wood moth,” Steward said.


www.theguardian.com

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