Buggin with Bridgey – October 2023

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Cairns Nature & Photography Tour in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  As the months roll by, subtle changes in the seasons bring sightings of new creatures and this report aims to give people a wrap up of the current animals seen as well as provide an ongoing citizen science account of our wonderful critters that can be seen in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Moths in the Cairns Botanical Gardens

and Wet Tropics of Queensland.

A brown moth with Pink spot on the Underwing is a Moth found in the Cairns Botanical Gardens

Imperial Fruit Sucking Moth (Phyllodes imperialis)

We’ve had some spectacular encounters with some impressive moths in the Cairns Botanical Gardens and the Wet Tropics lately so I thought it was time I dedicated a Blog to them.   Moths are very much under-appreciated and often thought of as brown and boring.  If that is your thoughts on moths, then I hope this Blog entry will change your mind.

Moths play an integral part of the ecosystem by being pollinators as well as being an important food source for many animals.  They are a great subject for Let’s Go Buggin Tour participants and we have a couple of spots where we can regularly find them sleeping during the day so they often present us with great photographic opportunities.  We regularly see them on the Night Walks as well.

Imperial Fruit Sucking Moth (Phyllodes imperialis)

Also known as the Pink Underwing Moth, this is one of the most beautiful species in the Wet Tropics and this year I’ve been lucky to have encounters with both the caterpillar (larvae) and the moth (adult) of this large moth species.  Both phases are very large and have a magical presence.  The caterpillar has incredible markings including fake eyes and teeth.  The moths forewings resemble brown leaves while the underwing has a large bright pink spot.   Both the caterpillar and the moth are featured in the Let’s Go Buggin 2024 Calendar available in the shop.

A huge brown moth with long tails sitting on a tree trunk. Hercules Moth.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) male

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules)

Another mind-blowing encounter during a Let’s Go Buggin Night Walk in the Cairns Botanical Gardens was seeing this huge male Hercules Moth.  Considered the largest moth in the world, even though it shares the title with 2 other moths, this species has the largest surface area of any insect.  In their adult stage, they do not feed and their life purpose is to find a mate before their short life is extinguished.  The males and females look relatively similar although the males have a longer thinner tail on the wings than the females.

North Queensland Day Moth (Alcides metaurus)

Regularly seen, this is another large moth species but unlike its relatives will happily fly during the day.   It’s also known as the Zodiac Moth.  A curious characteristic of this moth is that they usually sit face down on the leaves.  I recently had an encounter where it was sitting on the clear pool fence and I was able to photograph the underside.

Top side and underside of North Queensland Day Moth (Alcides metaurus)

Metalmark Moth (Choreutis sp.)

Another day flying moth, these tiny moths skip though the bushes faster than the eye can keep up with.   Once in a while they will sit upright on leaves like this and I’ve been lucky to snap a few before they decide to fly off never to be seen again.   I see a few different species within the same genus in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  This photograph is also featured in my 2024 Calendar available here: 

A orange brown and purple patterned moth sitting on a leaf. Metalmark Moths are regularly seen Moths in Cairns Botanical Gardens

Metalmark Moth (Choreutis sp.)

Emerald Moths (Geometrinae Genus)

For those who have been on my Tours in the Cairns Botanical Gardens will know my love of Emerald Moths!  Perhaps the irregularity of sightings, or maybe it’s the concept of a green moth that is so intriguing to me.  They all seem to have beautiful ornate patterns each one more beautiful than the next.  I couldn’t do a Blog Post without including some of these.

1. Bizarre Looper Moth (Eucyclodes pieroides) female  2.  Protuliocnemis biplagiata  3.  Agathia prasinaspis  4.  Catoria delectaria

Bracca rotundata

I have a real soft spot for this stunning species.  There is something mesmerising about the colours and patterns that I find quite magical.  A medium-sized moth that we sometimes find sleeping under leaves or on tree trunks during the day in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  This gives us some great opportunities to get some nice snaps of this beautiful species.   It seems that Bracca rotundata doesn’t have a common name.  What do you think it should be?

A yellow, black and blue spotted moth on a tree trunk called Bracca rotundata

Bracca rotundata

Four o’Clock Moth (Dysphania numana)

This moth is somewhat of a mascot for the rainforests of the Wet Tropics.  The curious behaviour of starting to fly at 4 pm has inspired its common name.  The larvae of this moth is a delightful yellow caterpillar and we often see these in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  The caterpillars are much easier to photograph and are seen more regularly.   They have a curious behaviour of sitting upright on the bushes they are on if they are feeling disturbed.  It’s thought that this appearance may make them look poisonous to some predators.  I rarely get the opportunity to photograph the moths.  This is only the second photograph I’ve taken and the instant I took this photo it flew away.

A dark blue and yellow moth sitting on a leaf. Four oClock Moths are found in the Cairns Botanical Gardens

Four o’Clock Moth (Dysphania numana)

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the examples of Moths in the Cairns Botanical Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. If you would like to take a deeper dive into some other encounters you can check out my Let’s Go Buggin Project on iNaturalist here.

Keen for a Let’s Go Buggin Tour? Use ‘BRIDGEYBLOG’ as the coupon code for 15% discount on your tour booking here.

Next Blog in late November.

🐞 💚 🪲


Bridgette uses a variety of Olympus OM SYSTEM Cameras and Lenses