Lisa, from the UK, who reads my posts and runs bite size memoir each week commented that she would like to see the moth that caused me to douse my room with napthalene flakes. Hence this post was born.
The Bogong moth is so memorable in Australia that statues are built to honour it, people wear bogong moth outfits to fancy dress parties and the like and in the eastern states (mainly New South Wales and Queensland) you know that summer is around the corner when the bogong starts invading.
The moth is large with a wingspan of around 2 inches and is recognised by arrow shaped dark markings, a dot resembling a comma and another, lighter spot all of which are on its upper brown wings. It lays its eggs at the base of plants in New South Wales and Queensland and approximately four weeks later the caterpillar emerges. It hides in the ground during the day and feeds at night – decimating the plants it attacks. It is known to farmers as cutworms as they cut up the pieces of plant and take them to their homes in the ground to eat. They love to eat almost everything the farmer likes to plant including cereal crops, peas, cabbages and cauliflowers to name just a few.
When it is about two inches long it weaves itself a cocoon and in another four weeks the moth emerges. Being a temperate climate moth just before summer starts the moths start their migration to a cooler place – caves in the Australian alps. For many of these moths this migration covers a distance of 3,000 kilometres (1,865 miles). The Bogongs don’t like to travel alone and somehow they all start their journey together in numbers of ten to millions.
For cities in the flight path of these moths problems arise for both the city and the moths. As the moths fly at night the city lights fool them into thinking the sun is coming up and they will attempt to find a dark place to rest and in the type of numbers entire walls of buildings can be hidden by the moths covering its surface.
Eventually they find the cool caves and settle for the Summer. The bogong was a staple food of the aboriginal people in the area and animals still make their way to the caves to feast on the moths. An aboriginal festival to celebrate with feasting on the moths traditionally attracted many people and is still held today – called the Ngan Girra Festival.
The moth is extremely nutritious with a body comprising 60% fat. At the end of summer the moth makes its way north to lay its eggs and start the cycle over again.
Bogong moths are not the largest moths in the world. This honour is taken by the Atlas moth, a relative of the silkworm, of South East Asia which has a wing span of over 10 inches. The Bogong by sheer numbers, in Australia, makes you feel as though it is one huge moth.
All photos are taken from the internet and attributed to the site from which they were taken.