Report brightens future for threatened sun moths
Efforts to conserve threatened Golden Sun Moths in Victoria have received a boost with the release of a major new scientific report.
The report, commissioned by Trust for Nature, brings together existing knowledge about the Golden Sun Moth and its conservation needs, and identifies key areas for further research.
The Golden Sun Moth, named for the female’s bright yellow hindwings, was once found in grasslands across southeast Australia. The moth caterpillars feed on the roots of grasses for several years, and the adults emerge only on hot, sunny days to mate.
Prior to colonisation, native grasslands covered around 2 million hectares of southeast Australia and were effectively managed by Traditional Owners to promote ecological diversity and abundance.
Today, due to the impact of urban development and agriculture, most of those grasslands have disappeared, resulting in populations of the Golden Sun Moth being highly reduced and fragmented.
With 80 per cent of the species’ remaining habitat found on private property, Trust for Nature has identified the Golden Sun Moth as a priority species for protection on private land through the organisation’s Statewide Conservation Plan.
Trust for Nature Chief Conservation Scientist Doug Robinson said that the report will guide conservation efforts.
“In the 1990s the Golden Sun Moth was thought to be nearly extinct, but dedicated survey efforts have discovered new populations over a greater range than previously thought. By collating this knowledge we now have a better idea of the questions that still need to be answered in order to properly conserve the species,” said Doug.
Image: Garry Cheers.
Recommendations from the report include improved survey techniques to identify where the moth lives, more research into habitat management options and a review of the moth’s genetic diversity.
“One of the great things about Golden Sun Moths is that their grassland habitat can coexist with and even benefit from strategic grazing, which can help manage threats like buildup of vegetation and weeds. Conservation of the moths can be a win-win for farmers and nature,” Doug said.
Golden Sun Moths have been recorded on properties protected through Trust for Nature across their range, including a 700 ha property in High Camp that was purchased and protected by Trust for Nature in 2012.
Read the full report here. This report was authored by Graham Jury, Danielle Harmshaw and Daniel Young of TREC Land Services.
You can also find out further information about Golden Sun Moths here.
You can make a contribution to the protection of Golden Sun Moths, and Victoria’s other threatened species, by making a donation to Trust for Nature.
Trust for Nature is one of Australia’s oldest conservation organisations, established to protect habitat on private land. It relies on the generosity of supporters to help protect Victoria’s biodiversity. Trust for Nature acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.
James Whitmore, Communications coordinator, Trust for Nature – firstname.lastname@example.org, 0450 653 811