It started with dull tapping on the windows of Kate Case’s Tasmanian farmhouse at night.
“I thought there was someone at the door. They were hitting up against the glass quite hard,” she told Yahoo New Australia.
That was two weeks ago. On Wednesday night the situation escalated. Kate opened her workshop door and was startled by what she found.
Photos supplied to Yahoo show dozens of moths clinging to her glass door. Kate explained there were actually hundreds across the room.
“I left my window ajar in there. I think maybe I left my light on, but I don’t recall doing so,” she said. “That night we’d had a huge number of them up against our windows and doors trying to get in.”
How Kate got the moths outside
Kate said she’s seen the moths flying around her Launceston home during previous years, but never so many.
While the moths were busy at night, during the day they appeared to enter a state of torpor. “I actually thought there was something wrong with them because they were hanging there and not moving,” she said.
Kate was determined not to harm the moths, and that meant avoiding harmful products like sprays. Knowing that moths are attracted to light, she took the simplest possible step to get them back outside.
“I actually just left the screen door open… and then when I went down there the next day most of them had gone,” she said.
You can read more on the importance of protecting moths here:
Why so many moths in Kate’s house?
New York-born scientist Jim Duggan has a particular interest in capturing images of Tasmania’s moths. He believes he’s photographed around 660 of the island state’s estimated 1000 species.
He believes the little creatures that invaded Kate’s workshop as Oxycanus Australis, a common species found around Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria. Another expert suggested they could be Abantiades latipennis. The two species look similar and are both from the ancient family, Hepialidae, which has a number of interesting traits.
Before growing into moths, the caterpillars live underground and take up to a year to hatch. This is often triggered by Autumn rain.
While the young feed on the roots of coastal tea trees, once they become moths they no longer feed. They usually live for less than a week as they are reliant on the nutrition they absorbed as juveniles.
Tasmania’s Department of Environment (NRE) has some simple advice for anyone who sees large numbers of moths around their home. “Leave them be and they will likely disappear within a few weeks,” a spokesperson said.
More breaking environment stories from this week:
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