Monday, 3 May 2010

The Variability of Fraus simulans

The more I become involved in the study of Australia's moths, the more fascinated I become.

Variability between species, such as the Geometrid, Ciampa arietaria has caused some confusion to this little moth-er in the past! This one's a doozy for playing with your head until you learn the giveaway characteristics of Ciampa arietaria.

Size within the same species has been fascinating too. Some caterpillars are better feeders than others, apparently!

Now we come to the complex world of the Hepialid.

I was recently asked to take Hepialid specimens for identification purposes. Of the 10 Fraus specimens I provided, I thought/hoped at least a couple would not be Fraus simulans!

The jury is back and bang goes the gavel. They were all Fraus simulans!

(Click images to enlarge)

Well, that's it for the variability of Fraus simulans - now for something completely different.

This is Fraus polyspila. Yay - a different Fraus species at last! :-)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

More On Mothing

The sheet has been the recipient of considerable activity over the past couple of weeks, mostly Crambids, Pyralids and several Noctuids I am unable to identify! They have been placed in my perennial pending file.

I had a bit of a reprieve last night but for a number of Hepialids coming to the porch light as we were receiving 23.5mm of rain.

This interesting little moth came into the porch last night. It is a species best known to the northwest of Victoria.

(Click to enlarge images)

Nolidae : Eariadinae
Earias huegeliana

This was a new moth for me also.
Crambidae : Pyraustinae
Antigastra catalaunalis

This is an old friend, Crypsiphona ocultaria.
It was perched on my sitting room window the
other morning in its splendour and I couldn't
resist taking the photo!
Geometridae : Geometrinae

Out-take: This shot illustrates the fun
us moth-ers have from time to time.
There's always somebody around to ruin
a good shot!

Oh and this female Dark Night Mole Cricket
caught my attention on Monday night. Isn't it cute? :-)
Maybe she knew some decent rain was on its way.
Gryllotalpa monanka
Orthoptera : Gryllotalpidae

Monday, 22 March 2010

Catching Up With Mothing

It's been a while since I've done any blogging.

I am just getting my feet back on solid ground after recently finding out one option to divert the highway round the local town would give me a 4-lane freeway frontage! Of course, if this option becomes a reality, there is no way I would be able to live with that!

At this point, I am hoping the 3 of 4 options which are close to me - and the most expensive, will fall off the agenda when the final decision as to the new freeway location is made in a few months time.

Anyway, back to mothing!

Yesterday, my neighbour said as he was leaving "what's this one?'
The Anthelid was sitting on my path in broad daylight in almost the same position as the Golden Sun Moth I photographed last November.

(Click images to enlarge)

A very nice male.
Anthela denticulata

This is Araeopaschia species ovipositing on a wall.
Pyralidae: Epipaschiinae

This was a new moth for me.
Aglaopus species.
Thyrididae : Striglininae

Now that I have stopped hyperventilating for a bit over the freeway options likely to directly or indirectly impact upon my quiet enjoyment of this rural setting, which has been my home for 29 years, I might be able to keep this blog updated! :-)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A Political Post (Apologies)

I am posting this because I am so concerned as to the full ramifications of a Mandatory Internet Filter and how it could be abused by this government and, indeed, future governments. This filter is not about 'protecting the children'. It's about a government censoring the people. If the legislation becomes Law, Australia will be joining countries such as China and Iran and with that prospect in mind, I am deeply ashamed.

I am perfectly capable of deciding what I read, view on TV and what pages I visit on the internet. I do NOT appreciate a Nanny Government making these decisions for me.

Today, Australia Day, many Australian websites have been blacked out in protest to the proposal of a Mandatory Internet Filter for Australians. I am not technically capable of inserting the code to black this blog out, so this is the next best step.

Information about Internet censorship


Please take 5 minutes to read this message as it's extremely important for your continued access to an uncensored and functional internet, and to help protect children on the internet.

------- BACKGROUND -------
The Rudd Government is currently planning to introduce a mandatory Internet filtering law from some time in 2010. Your ISP (the company you get your internet access from) will be asked to censor between 1000 and 10,000 websites deemed to be "Refused Classification" (aka "RC", many; if not most of these sites are NOT illegal).
They are marketing this as "protecting the children" by reducing access to Child Pornography, something which I am all for doing, but unfortunately, this is a very ineffective means of doing so, with far more drawbacks than benefits.
It is important to remember that this is the same government that’s REDUCING the budget of the Federal Police unit whose job it is to catch the paedophiles this filter will effectively help to protect.

I respect that you may think this a good idea. I for one completely support any measure which will yield any improvement to child safety. However, this proposal is being done in a way similar to many "political" things — it is being sold by the politicians as far more effective than the experts believe it will be, and has the added possibility that in a few years, it will censor far more than just websites of "refused classification".

As it currently stands, this filter will cost the Australian public around $43 million. This amount however is only the tip of the iceberg. It does not include the costs to your ISP — costs that they will almost certainly have to pass on to you. Similarly, it does not include the ongoing, and potentially massive, task of maintaining the filter list, which is absolutely vital if there is to be even the slightest chance of the filter actually doing anything productive. These costs, both to the government and passed on to you by your ISP are quite likely to be greater than that of far more effective PC based systems which can be easily purchased and installed and be tailored to your individual family's needs.
However cost is far from the only argument against the proposed filter.

There is the illusion of increased safety of children, and their protection from on-line threats and predators, and the issue of uncensored access to the internet.

The main message here is that if this filter ever becomes a reality, do not presume that it will make children safer and DO NOT use it as an excuse to reduce supervision of children whilst they use the Internet. If you believe children are going to be safer because of the filter, then read on and I will explain why that is an illusion.

Here are 10 things you should ask yourself (and the Government) about the filter so that you are more informed:

------- 1) People don't just "stumble" across child porn online or search Google for it. -------
Child porn is already filtered out of search results by all search engines.
So how do people access it?
- Peer-2-Peer networks (High speed sharing of large files like videos)
- Usenet (Direct File sharing)
- Sharing the web page addresses directly
- Encrypted websites (Where their privacy is secured, like your online banking, paypal, etc.)

------- 2) How do paedophiles find children online to perform these disgusting acts on/with? -------
- Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace
- Chat Rooms
- Instant messaging programs like MSN and Yahoo
- Email

------- 3) What does the ISP filter block? -------
A specific, secret list of website addresses only.
This list includes a number of perfectly legal sites deemed politically "unsavoury", such as euthanasia and anti-abortion websites as well as perfectly harmless websites that were hacked a long time ago, and have been fixed.
This list includes any and all content which the regulatory body deems as "Refused Classification", including any perfectly legal site which does not meet the strict definitions for classification under one of the existing (G, PG, M, MA, R, X, etc) ratings.

If a site hasn't been reported for classification (so as it can be refused that classification), it will not be blocked.
Nobody of good concience is ever likely to find the paedophiles (already secret) websites, so who exactly does the government believe will be reporting these sites? If nobody who knows about them will report them, they will never be blocked.

------- 4) What doesn't the ISP filter block? -------
- "R" Rated pornographic and adult material
- "X" Rated pornographic and adult material
- (As above) Any website containing any content which has not been specifically reported to the authorities and then subsequently refused classification
- Instant messaging
- Facebook and Myspace
- Email
- Peer-2-Peer
- Usenet
- Chat Rooms
- Encrypted Websites

------- 5) Can the filter be worked around to still access child porn? -------
YES, undoubtedly, and easily. You can bet the same people who share their filthy habit of child porn and website addresses will also share the very simple methods for bypassing the filter, which not only makes the filter pointless, but also makes it harder for Police to catch them. ie the Government filter will NOT make your child safer.

------- 6) How easy is the filter to evade? -------
It is extremely easy for any person with the inclination to do so, and access to Google.
a) Both an independent trial by Telstra and the official Government trial report that every single option tested was easy to bypass.
b) The best success rate (at preventing a filter being bypassed) allowed 10% of known bypassing methods to work. It also caused the greatest slow-down (Greater than a 40% reduction in speed).
c) Children already know how to bypass similar filters installed at their schools (

------- 7) Does the Government plan to make evading the filter harder? -------
Under the current proposal, no.
a) There will be no penalties for evading the filter and no plans are in place to make it harder to evade.
b) Proxies, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), Encryption, and Tunneling programs (all simple ways of evading the filter) will not be blocked by the filter.

------- 8) Are there any technical drawbacks to the filter? -------
Yes, it is likely to cause slowdowns on the internet for everybody.
a) If you're on dialup, you probably will not notice any difference.
b) If you have fast internet, (EG. ADSL, up to 8Mbps) your internet is likely to be slowed up to 10%
c) If you have VERY fast internet (EG. ADSL2+ or Cable, 8-24 and 30, and 100 Mbps are all currently available in Australia) your internet is likely to be slowed significantly more, but no one knows for sure as The Government has failed to test the filters at these speeds.
d) This type of filtering does not "scale" well. As more people use faster internet, so too the effect on the speed of that internet will be worse. The proposed National Broadband Network (NBN) will be 100Mbps and is designed to give almost everyone access to these speeds. The government has done no testing of any kind on any network with even one tenth of that speed, or even one percent of the likely number of connections.
e) There will also likely be some increases to ping times. This will increase online gaming lag (for games such as World of Warcraft and others) as well as make VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol, aka Internet Telephones) less effective, decreasing the quality of the cals)

------- 9) What if I can't access a perfectly safe website? -------
Unfortunately, even the best filter could accidentally block upwards of 3 million websites in its attempts to block less than 1000 child porn websites that's 300,000% of what they are meant to be blocking.

------- 10) What if my website gets blocked? How would I know, and how do I fix that? -------
The government board, ACMA decides what is blocked based on complaints and maintains a secret blacklist (which has already been leaked online once already). Unfortunately there is no process for informing people that their website is blocked, or how to appeal that decision. There is also no evidence that anyone is, or will be held responsible for any loss of business you may encounter if your website is wrongly blocked by the system.

If you, like me, find that any of this is unacceptable, please visit and make your voice heard by contacting your local and federal members of parliament and putting your vote on the line, and please consider throwing an Australia day party ( ), blacking out your twitter/FB profile pic or website ( ) or attend the nationwide protest in your capital city on the 30th of Jan ( )

If you are concerned about protecting your children online, there are many easy ways to do this from home, where you can control what level of protection you offer. First and foremost, supervise your children whilst online and teach them about the internet and its dangers just like you would teach them how to cross a road. Nothing can or should replace good supervision and education. Websites like Facebook have 13+ age requirements for a reason. Please feel free to visit this website for more information:
Just like crossing the road, the internet can be a safe place, if young children are supervised and assisted, and older children have been taught the safe way to proceed.

I hate chain mail as much as the next person, but this is kind of different. It's not regarding an issue that's no longer relevant, I'm not asking you to sign anything, and I'm not saying your true love's name will be revealed only if you send this on to 20 people, so please forward this email on to anyone in your contact list you think would read this (or even if you think they won't).

The government is determined to hide the truth about their filter with misleading press releases, and using the ETS and NBN as media cover.

For a summary of key trial reports and media stories on the ISP filter, see here

Most importantly, please TALK about this issue with your friends and family. Those who are technically minded and the non-technical alike need to make this a matter of public knowledge. Without doing that, messages like this can be forwarded all we like and nothing will change.

Thankyou for taking the time to read this message.


Addendum: No matter what I do, Blogger will NOT allow me to reduce the font size of my opening paragraph. Please do not think I am shouting! I am very concerned about this legislation but I am certainly not shouting.

Thanks again, Blogger!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

January Mothing (Sort of !!)

Spot the non entomological species! :-)

Life has been pretty sad for this Moth-er of late. The weather has been obnoxious! Cold and wind. More cold and wind then thrust into extreme heat of over 42deg C. Thankfully, we've had a cool change so there's now more cold and wind!

Only a couple of nights so far this month have been suitable for putting the sheet up and they were pretty disasterous as the swarms of gnats made going anywhere near the sheet a bit of a nightmare. The moths also don't enjoy being constantly bombed by gnats. I have a couple of moth entries for January which are still awaiting correct identification.

Anyway, here are some "insects" that have come to the light so far this month!

A nice Katydid, showing some blueish markings. I think it's probably the Common Garden Katydid, Caedicia simplex.
TETTIGONIIDAE : Phaneropterinae

My first halfway decent Dragonfly shot! I'm no Odonata expert but I think this large Dragonfly might be the Australian Emporer, Hemianax papuensis.

My Marbled Gecko was back in it's usual spot on the kitchen window screen. I was delighted to see it again because I was a bit suspicious my sighting in March last year might have been a once-off.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

December Mothing - 1

Weather has been a bit temperamental during December, with a lot of wind and cold nights. No point putting the sheet out in those conditions! Here are a few caught during a couple of warm, still nights.

(Click images to enlarge)

A Plume Moth, Stangeia xerodes

Possibly Thrincophora signigerana
TORTRICIDAE : Tortricinae

This one was taken inside. Apologies for lack of quality of image but that's what happens when short people stand on stools trying to photograph moths on the ceiling!! :-)

Unfortunately, the moth expired before I could catch it to take outside.
Pyralid of some kind, maybe?
Here's an unidentified Noctuid.
If anyone knows what these two are, please let me know.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

November Mothing - 6

Well, what a week this past one has been! While Canberra went into meltdown, I was finding a moth listed as critically endangered in Australia!

This is the Golden Sun Moth, Synemon plana. Victoria seems to be the last stronghold for this diurnal species and is listed as a threatened taxon.
The moth is quite complex. The males usually have a range of not much more than 100 metres which they patrol on very still, warm days searching for females who are generally non-fliers. The females deposit themselves on the host plant, Wallaby grass (Austrodanthonia species) flashing their orange hindwing to attract the male. The moth has limited mouthparts and unable to feed or drink so their lifespan is limited to about a week.

I caught this moth doing a bit of circle-work on a footpath leading to the back door. It may have got caught up in a long wire cage I made to protect seedlings from bird attack which is currently on a wall to deter my cats from getting onto the roof whilst the Pardalotes are raising their brood. If this was the reason for the circling behaviour, it could be due to the moth being a bit disorientated. When I put it on a leaf of a large shrub, it immediately flew off.

More on the status of this moth here.

Click to enlarge images)

Synemon plana

An old favourite a bit worse for wear - probably due to a microbat or something!

I found Oenochroma vinaria caterpillars in a young Hakea, trying to hide from the rain, yesterday.

Oenochroma vinaria
GEOMETRIDAE : Oenochrominae

Saturday, 21 November 2009

November Mothing - 5

New species (for me) are continuing to present themselves this month. Here are a few of them.
(Click images to enlarge)

Two new species of Idaea and I was lucky enough to have help with the identifications.
The top one is the striking Idaea pseliota.

This one is Idaea philocosma
Geometridae : Sterrhinae

Another Tiger/Footman.
This one is Termessa gratiosa.
Arctiidae : Lithosiinae

Gastrina cristaria
Geometridae : Ennominae

This, I think is Persectania ewingii.
If you enlarge this photo, the scales resemble feathers on this particular moth. Probably a really fresh model! :-)
Noctuidae : Hadeninae.

We are in for some cooler weather and rain, hopefully, so mothing may be put on the back burner for a few days.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

November Mothing - 4

High temperatures (30s+) last week brough some new moths (for me) plus a few of the usual suspects.

Here are some of them.

(Click images to enlarge)

This is a new moth for me.
Sandava xylistis
Noctuidae : Hypeninae

This is a small moth less that 1cm in length.
Eublemma rivula
Noctuidae : Acontiinae

I think this is Chloroclystis filata. It had a wingspan of about 2cm.
Geometridae : Larentiinae

This one has proved difficult to identify absolutely.

In Janurary this year, I photographed Sterictopsis argyraspis but this one seems to have much darker zig-zag lines across the upper wing. If anyone can correctly identify it, I would be pleased.

Sterictopsis species
Geometridae : Geometrinae

Nacoleia rhoeoalis
Crambidae : Pyraustinae

(Boarmia) suasaria
Geometridae : Ennominae

I knew I was psychic! I just knew my Hypobapta percomptaria would be darker than Mosura's !! :-)

Geometridae : Geometrinae
Edit: This moth might be Hypobapta diffundens - not H. percomptaria.

Friday, 13 November 2009

November Mothing - 3

With temperatures in the 30's+ during this week and a couple of reasonably still nights, mothing has been productive. Here are a few from early in the week.

(Click images to enlarge)

NOCTUIDAE : Heliothinae
Helicoverpa punctigera

Dysbatus singularis

GEOMETRIDAE : Geometrinae
Hypobapta diffundens

Cryphaea xylina
UPDATE: I've received advice this moth might be Mimaglossa species.
Pyralidae: Epipaschiinae
CRAMBIDAE : Pyraustinae
Achyra affinitalis (light and dark forms)
A lovely chestnut form of Uresphita ornithropteralis
CRAMBIDAE : Pyraustinae
I'm pretty sure this is Eochrois callianessa.
There is a tinge of yellow on this moth where it should be.
OECOPHORIDAE : Oecophorinae
This one is unidentified. If anyone knows what it is, I'd be very pleased to know. About 1.5cm in length.
Also, if I have made an error with other identifications, please let me know.