Politicians, poisons and moths: ambiguity over the icon status of the Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) (Noctuidae) in Australia
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The federal Parliamentary Library of Australia recently took the unusual step of publishing an advisory briefing paper on moths (McCormick 2006). It was prompted by concerns arising from the annual ‘invasions’ of Parliament House, Canberra, by vast numbers of migrating Bogong moths, Agrotis infusa (Noctuidae). A. infusa is perhaps the only native insect in Australia to have been accorded notoriety in this way, and is one of very few of our well over 20,000 species of moths to intrude on the consciousness of many politicians—notwithstanding the vast economic impacts of other noctuids such as Helicoverpa spp. as crop pests. The paper is a valuable step toward increasing popular and political understanding of the complex migratory biology of this icon species.
The long distance migratory flights of A. infusa are an ecological phenomenon paralleling those of Danaus plexippusin the New World. Bogong moths breed in the lowland areas of eastern Australia, and non-reproductive adults migrate...
I very much appreciate comments from Prof. Roger Dennis and Prof. Michael Samways on a draft of this editorial.
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