SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SUN-MOTHS

Synemon 'Ignita'  (Kangaroo Island Sun-moth)

ignita HPIM7654-7661 f KI

Female 52mm from Kangaroo Island

map_S_ignita.gif (10289 bytes)

The Kangaroo Island Sun-moth is a large, very pretty species, either closely related to, or a form of S. magnifica Strand, which occurs in the eastern states. Within South Australia this unstudied species has only been found on Kangaroo Island (K.I.), where it utilises the dryland sedge Lepidosperma viscidum (Sticky Sword-sedge) (Cyperaceae) as a hostplant. The wing expanse is 34-52mm and the reported flight period is late November-early February.

BCSA member Andy Young recently recorded the life history of this sun-moth. The eggs of S. 'Ignita' are laid singly on the stems of the hostplant near its base, and females have a preference for smaller plants. Newly emerged larvae are red coloured. (S. magnifica has been well studied: Common, I.F.B. & Edwards, E.D. 1981. The life history and early stages of Synemon magnifica Strand (Lepidoptera: Castniidae). J. Aust. Ent. Soc. 20: 295–302).

The species has a restricted range on K.I. where it still seems to be secure but is threatened by farming, urbanisation and fire management practices. It is likely to also occur in moist, southern temperate areas on the mainland, where areas of its hostplant grow in sufficient density that have been historically undisturbed and not sprayed by herbicides and insecticides.

 

ignita f UNS & pupa excuvia KI photo Andy Young (81567 bytes)

Newly emerged female on larval host Lepidosperma viscidum.
The empty pupal shell (exuvium) protruding from the ground, is visible in the lower right hand corner.

ignita f UPS KI_photo Andy Young (32445 bytes)

Newly emerged female in a tent-like resting position on a shrub

ignita m UPS KI photo Andy Young (48766 bytes)

Newly emerged male resting in open-wings position on the ground

Photography by Andy Young

ignita egg KI_img016 photo Hunt & Young (19736 bytes)

Spindle shaped egg slightly dehydrated, showing four longitudinal ridges,
confirming the Synemon 'Ignita' relationship with Synemon magnifica

Photography by L. Hunt & Andy Young

ignita habitat KI 13Nov03 Andy Young  (119656 bytes)

Habitat for S. 'Ignita' on K.I.

Lviscidum Bot3  (138828 bytes)

Lepidosperma viscidum (Sticky sword-sedge) (Cyperaceae).

Photography by R. Grund

 

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Author:  R. GRUND, copyright 10 April 2011, all rights reserved.
Last update 25 April 2011.