Most of us have had moths come to lighted windows at night, but few of us go further than identifying a few of the larger or more colourful specimens.
Keener naturalists set up special moth-attracting lights so that more moths are attracted and identified.
This is how a rare moth previously known from only three localities in Victoria was recently discovered on the edge of the Enfield forest, at Napoleons.
The moth is one of many emerald moths found in Victoria, but it is the only one with such a distinctive wavy white pattern on the green background. Its genus name is Cymatoplex, but it is yet to receive a specific name.
Its wingspan is around 25mm, so it is not a large moth. Like many moths, it flies for only a few days. It is not a strong flier.
It was discovered and photographed by local naturalist Indra Bone, who was “night lighting” in the middle of March when he made the rare discovery.
Described by Victorian moth expert Peter Marriott as a “really exciting find”, the Napoleons record of this moth is the most southerly record of the species.
Another moth expert, Steve Williams, says that he has asked “hundreds of people for over five years” to look for this moth, but without success.
With such a distinctive wing colour and pattern, it is surprising that the moth is so rarely found.
Also surprising is the fact that its caterpillars seem to feed only on the very common native shrub known as drooping cassinia, also known as coffee bush or Chinese scrub.
If the host plant is so common, why is the moth so rarely found?
The plant is common near where the Napoleons specimen was discovered.
The main known population – where it occurs in quite small numbers – is in the Eppalock forest near Castlemaine. Special night-time searches for it have been made nearby, but the moth had not been found at any new localities until last month’s find at Napoleons.
The latest new bird for the Lake Learmonth list is the spotted crake, seen a couple of months ago.
Recent Lake Learmonth sightings have included a pair of freckled ducks, a red-necked avocet, a red-capped plover, a few red-kneed dotterels, one black-tailed native-hen and numerous little corellas. Waterbird numbers are low overall, but the number of interesting species has been relatively high.
Most of the recent reports have come from the north-east corner, where the birds have been on and around rocky places. In that area a viewing hide is present.