Backyard Buddies
Bogong Moths

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Bogong Moths

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As the weather warms up in south-east Australia, the well-known Bogong moths are getting ready to make a big journey.

Bogong moths migrate several hundred kilometres each year. During spring, they fly from the lowland grassy areas up to the mountainous caves in the Snowy Mountains.

As the temperature heats up, Bogong moths sleep in caves, each overlapping one another - just like tiles on a roof.

In autumn Bogong moths fly back from the Snowy Mountains to the plains to feed on flower nectar to build up their energy reserves. As they don't feed during their summer dormancy they need to eat lots of food on their journey. Their main food source is nectar from flowers such as grevilleas and they will feed on them at dusk. They need fat reserves of up to 60 percent of their total bodyweight in order to survive their long distance travel.

Look for Bogong moths around houses and buildings, or when you go for a walk near a forest or woodland.

The best time to spot a Bogong moth is at night. They flock around street lights, outdoor lights or even well lit houses.

During the day, Bogong moths hide away in dark crevices. Their dark brown to blackish wings mean they are well camouflaged, unless there is great number of them all hiding in one spot.

Bogong moths live all over non-tropical Australia, but only appear to migrate in the south-east.

If you're in Canberra in late September or early November, look out for Bogong moths around major public buildings.

The Bogong moth may look unassuming, but it is a very important creature in the south-east of Australia. Many species, like the endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum, rely on Bogong moth migrations as a source of food.

Click to watch a video of the Mountain Pygmy-possum catching Bogong moths in the Australian Alps.

Did you know?

The caterpillars of the Bogong moth are known as cutworms because they feed on plants by chewing them off at ground level.

Before white settlement in Australia, Indigenous people feasted on adult Bogong moths in the mountains. These moths were rich in fat and a reliable source of food, as the moths spent the summer in the relative cool of the mountains before mating. Bogong moths were usually killed or dazed by heat and smoke from torches, then roasted and eaten whole.

Tip

Plant locally native plants such as grevilleas in your garden to attract butterflies, small birds, and of course, the Bogong moth. Ask your local plant nursery which nectar giving native plants are local to your area.

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Quote

”BYB shows that people can make a positive difference to conservation efforts in Australia. Learn, explore and love your bit of wilderness.“

Michele – National Parks Ranger, NSW

Photo: OEH