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Spotlight at your peril

May 27, 2019

Variable Oxycanus Moth (Oxycanus dirempta)

If you are spotlighting at night at the moment, particularly with a head torch, beware. You are likely to be beaten to death by moths of the Hepialidae family which are attracted to the light. More commonly known as Ghost or Swift moths, they are fairly large and can be quite disturbing as they fly towards your head torch and hit you in the face (or get caught in your hoodie!).





Abantiades sp.


The male moth is smaller than the female. After mating the female moth spreads eggs over a wide area by distributing them whilst in flight. The resultant larvae build burrows in the ground which they line with silk. They then feed on leaf litter or tree roots. The moths pupate in their burrow and when ready the pupa wriggles to the surface and the adult emerges. The empty pupa skin is often found lying on the ground or still poking out of the burrow (see picture right).

At the moment there are several species flying about. For those of you who do not heed the warning, a word of advice. Whilst spotlighting keep your mouth closed. One of the moths tastes kind of bitter. I think it’s the brown one!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Mitchell permalink
    May 27, 2019 5:25 pm

    And just how do you come to know about the taste?

  2. Geoff Leslie permalink
    May 28, 2019 9:23 am

    I always thought they were Goat moths and so did Geoff Park over at Natural Newstead till an entomologist corrected him

    • ronlit permalink*
      May 28, 2019 1:02 pm

      There are also Rain Moths flying about as well. Same family.

  3. Susan permalink
    May 30, 2019 1:40 pm

    Great photos! our swift moths emerged a couple of weeks ago. Caused the pups to bark a lot because of the sound when hitting the windows! – Autumn break!

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