Zodiac moth on the poplar gum

large dark moth on gum blossom
Zodiac moth, Alcides metaurus, high in our poplar gum

Birds aren’t the only creatures attracted to the abundant blossom of our poplar gum. As well as the Rainbow Lorikeets, Friarbirds, Blue-faced Honeyeaters and White-gaped Honeyeaters we have flying foxes at night and, naturally, insects during the day. This moth is a special visitor: I haven’t seen one, let alone photographed one, in my garden before although I have seen them occasionally around Cairns.

Zodiac moths, Alcides metaurus, are more common in rainforest than in our drier country.  They are (obviously) a day-flying species, and belong to the Uraniidae family, Swallowtail moths. They are as large as some of our Swallowtail butterflies – Ulysses or Orchard, for instance – at about 100mm. (If they weren’t, I couldn’t have managed a decent photo from ground level, even with my telephoto lens.)

Zodiac moth underside, with black and white bars
Zodiac moth underside
Zodiac moth feeding
Zodiac moth feeding

 

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