Beautiful-large-moth-with-purple-hind-wings
What a beautiful creature! This moth was fluttering around on the path when we came back from a local meeting. What kind of moth was it?

This blog began with the question “What is it?” and I still find myself asking this question most days.   The other night we came back from a meeting, and found this beautiful moth fluttering around on the path. It seemed to be in the act of dying, as it couldn’t get off the ground and was banging into everything in its way.   It was so large, we placed an iPhone next to it to give some scale:

large-moth-with-iPone--for-scale
You can see from the iPhone how large this moth was.

Looking up online field guides tonight, I discovered the moth is called Abantiades hyalinatus and so far, it has not been given a common name.  This species is found from Queensland, through New South Wales and in Victoria.  Apparently, the larvae live underground, feeding on the roots of trees and shrubs.  see many birds digging into the ground looking for food, so I guess the Abantiades hyalinatus larvae are one of the food sources they dig to find.

Adult moths emerge in late Summer and early Autumn.  The Atlas of Living Australia site states “The adult moths have no functional mouthparts and do not feed, living only a few days.”  How sad the adults have such a short lifespan.  One website I looked at said the moths only show the purple wings when they are dying.  I guess if they only live for a few days, this could be for the whole time.

While we were photographing the moth, it half flew, half blundered across to the gate into our back yard.  Luna, one of our cats, saw it coming, poking her paw out through the gap in the palings. I’m really glad she presented a ‘soft’ foot (without claws extended) and that her foot was facing the wrong way.  It does give another  comparison for size though.

Cat-paw-and-large-loth
Luna thought she would join in when we were paying attention to the moth. Fortunately she didn’t get anywhere near it.

According to the websites I visited, the Abantiades hyalinatus moth grows to a maximum size of 9.5 cm.  That’s some moth! I’m pleased I found mention of it online and was able to find out a little bit of information to share with you.

Abantiades-hyalinatus-moth-with-wings-closed
With wings closed, it is still a beautiful looking moth.