Ahi Pepe MothNet

Moth Guides - Puka Whakamārama o Te Pepe Nui - Te Tahiwi

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Puka Whakamārama o Te Pepe Nui - Te Tahiwi

Beginners' Guide to the Macro Moths - Te Tahiwi

This guide covers the East Coast of the South Island (Kā Whatakai o Rokohouia) from the Waitaki River North the Crosby Moth regions of South Canterbury (SC); Mid Canterbury (MC); North Canterbury (NC); Kaikoura (KA); Marlbourgh (MB) and the Marlbourgh Sounds (SD).- You can find all these regions and the description of the boundaries in the Crosby et al. 1976 publication.

Te Tahiwi region is named for the hull of the waka. We named the East Coast and West Coast of the South Island as a pair both alluding to different sections of the hull. The East Coast being the drier became Te Tahiwi. Xyridacma alectoraria with its gorgeous yellow wings seemd an appropriate emblem for a region characterized by sun and golden (white) wines.

The New Zealand's Native Macro Moths field guides are a one of a kind quality product with high resolution life sized moth images. The guides are a handy 6 panel concertina style foldout on offset printed on (200gsm) laminated high quality card. They are designed for small hands and hard work (water and tear resistant). Each panel is 15cm(w) x 27cm (h) folding out to a total unfolded size of 90cm(w) x 27cm (h).

The text, content and design are by the Ahi Pepe MothNet project partners. Illustrations are by Sean W. Gilles. The moth list was compiled by Dr Robert Hoare with comment from Brian Patrick and NZs lepidopterist community. The moth images are high resolution photographs by Birgit Rhode of moth specimens in the NZAC taken with funding from the Terrestrial Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (TFBIS) programme.

These guides are produced by Landcare Research as part of the Ahi Pepe MothNet project funded by MBIE "Unlocking Curious Minds" initiative.

We chose Xyridacma alectoraria as the moth emblem for the Puka Whakamārama o te Pepe Nui - Te Tahiwi. Xyridacma alectoraria is briefly mentioned in A Photographic Guide to Moths & Butterflies of New Zealand by Robert Hoare (one of the scientists involved in MothNet), under the entry of its closely related by slightly small sibling Xyridacma ustaria. But has its own entry in Andrew Crowe’s Which New Zealand Insect?. According to Andrew Xyridacma alectoraria is sometimes known as the Five Finger Looper. Not because it has five fingers (moths don’t have fingers) but because the caterpiller feeds on the leaves of the native five finger tree (Pseudopanax arboreus). Xyridacma alectoraria is a Geometrid (the same family as Declana egregia) but from a different subfamily the Oenochrominae. Geometrids and the subfamily that Xyridacma alectoraria are often described as the moths that are the most similar to butterflies – we like to think of them as the moths that butterflies are most similar to.

All Geometrids are known colloquially as loopers. This comes from the way the caterpillars move – arching up like a bent bow and moving along the leaf or twig. The classic children's song Inchworm is about a Geometrid caterpiller. See Sesame Street do a rendition on YouTube . The te reo Māori term for geometrids Tāwhana,  references the same caterpillar form with Tāwhana also referring to a rainbow. The yellow of Xyridacma alectoraria could certainly be from a rainbow.

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Image: B. Rhode, Landcare Research

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