Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana) - An endangered species

The Golden Sun Moth ( Synemon plana ) is a medium-sized moth with the slightly larger male having a wing span of about 34 mm. The upper surfaces of male forewings and hindwings are patterned bronzy brown and grey; the female has dark grey patterned forewings and bright orange hindwings with black submarginal spots. The adults are without functional mouthparts; they have strongly clubbed antennae and the female has a long extensible ovipositor.

The Golden Sun Moth was once relatively widespread in native grasslands of south-eastern Australia but its abundance is now much reduced. Currently, the species is known from 16 sites in the ACT (six of which are small and isolated) 11 sites in NSW and five sites in Victoria.

In the ACT, the moth occurs in natural temperate grasslands dominated by Danthonia carphoides, a wallaby grass, in areas adjacent to and within the city of Canberra.

The most important sites are within the Majura Field Firing Range, the Belconnen Naval Station, "Woden" property in the Jerrabomberra Valley and in the Mulanggary Grassland Reserve in Gungahlin.

The adult Golden Sun Moth is a day-flying species that may be found in the ACT from about mid-November to early January. They do not feed or drink as adults and usually live for only one or two days. Females rarely fly and eggs are laid in the base of wallaby grass tussocks. Larvae feed on the underground tussock parts for about two years before emerging as adults.

Conservation Threats

Loss, fragmentation or degradation of already restricted habitat is the major threat to the Golden Sun Moth. In the ACT, only 5% (1000 ha) of lowland native grassland still exists in moderate to good condition and only a subset of this is of a type dominated by suitable wallaby grass species. Native grassland continues to be in demand for urban development as well as being vulnerable to alteration by changed agricultural practices and degradation through weed invasion.

Conservation Action

The objective is to maintain existing viable populations of the Golden Sun Moth in their natural habitat.

Protection of remnant grassland, research on the moth and its biology and monitoring of the effectiveness of management practices are the main conservation tools.

Contact Details

Organisation
Parks and City Services (PACS)

Contact Number
13 22 81
Postal Address
GPO Box 158 Canberra ACT 2601
Facsimile Number
(02) 6207 5366 (Head Office)
Email
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