Golden Sun Moth

Synemon plana

insect insect

Golden Sun Moth
Source: CSIRO

Type: insect

Golden Sun Moth Golden Sun Moth
Source: CSIRO

Victorian Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

The Golden Sun Moth is vulnerable to loss and degradation of its habitat caused by human activity and invading weeds. Housing developments, agriculture, grazing and mowing are among the disturbances that endanger this species. Golden Sun Moths are unable to disperse more than a few hundred metres, which means that they cannot migrate into new areas.

WHAT THEY EAT

herbivore

Golden Sun moths are herbivores.

They only eat wallaby grass, Austrodanthonia.

HOW BIG THEY ARE

Golden Sun Moth relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a sparrow.

Wingspan:
3.1–3.4 cm

Amazing Golden Sun Moths

With their day-flying habits and colourful hind wings, Golden Sun Moths might be mistaken for butterflies. They were once common in the grassy plains across south-eastern Australia but have suffered profound declines from encroaching human activity.

Golden Sun Moths have clubbed antennae and a pattern of grey, brown and bronze scales on their forewings. Their hind wings are vivid orange with black spots. Adult Golden Sun Moths live for only 2–5 days and lack functional mouthparts for feeding. Females rarely fly; instead, they emerge from their pupal cases and display their wings to attract a passing male. Males spend their adult lives flying over grass tussocks in search of females. They do not disperse far from their larval territory.

After mating, the female lays about 150 eggs at the base of wallaby grass tussocks. She inserts them into soil crevices and between grass blades with her long ovipositor. However, many aspects of this species’ biology are still not conclusively known. The larvae may take between one and three years to develop.

Golden Sun Moths are difficult to survey because their distribution is so patchy. Populations may occupy a small area but contain many individuals. As Melbourne expands and more pressure is placed on its habitat, this species will require careful management to ensure it is not lost.

Did You Know?

Golden Sun Moths

  • fly during the day
  • were rediscovered near Melbourne in 2003
  • do not feed as adults

WHERE THEY LIVE

There are about 125 sites in Victoria, the ACT and New South Wales where Golden Sun Moths persist. In 2003 a population was discovered at Craigieburn on the outskirts of Melbourne. These moths live in native temperate grasslands and open woodlands where wallaby-grasses dominates, generally in areas with shallow, well-drained soils.

OTHER ANIMALS

Other animals from the Victorian Grasslands

Eastern Barred Bandicoot Striped Legless LizardPlains-wanderer