Pink Underwing Moth, southern subspecies

imperial fruit moth

(Illustration by Jane Thompson)

This magnificent moth is found only in old growth montane rainforest. Mary Cairncross is one of only a few confirmed breeding habitats for the southern subspecies found between northern NSW and north-east Queensland. When at rest, the fore wings cover the hind wings, giving the appearance of a dead leaf to potential predators. The moth feeds on damaged fruit. The larvae feed on the vine Carronia multisepalea making it a very selective eater.

The larvae are equally impressive. When disturbed they bend forward, stretching their skin to reveal what appears to be a pair of large, blue-black eyes and a double row of white teeth-like markings to deter would-be predators. The pink underwing moth has been found in only five locations and is listed as threatened under federal legislation.

Phyllodes imperialis smithersi

Its habitat is subtropical rainforest of the D’Aguilar Range, especially Mt Glorious. It is also found in the rainforest of Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. It can be seen clinging to tree buttresses and sapling stems. The dragon has the delightful habit of moving sideways around the trunk to escape observation.

Two, or possibly three, species occur in Australia where they are confined to the rainforests and adjacent forest communities of the east coast. They clearly represent a relatively recent migrant from the island of New Guinea.

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