A pretty moth

Last Saturday at a landcare meeting on biocontrol of vines (from which I concluded that the beetles are useful but not a silver bullet – one more thing to add to the tools against feral vines), this moth (Amerila crokeri) landed on another participant. The bright pink leggings match the bright pink abdomen, which I wasn’t quick enough to capture with my camera but you can see it under the semi-transparent wings.

The bright pink probably advertises that the moth is nasty to eat, so is protective. According to the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House website:

The moth has an amazing “frothing” defence mechanism, shared by other moths of the genus Amerila. When disturbed, it exudes a frothy yellow fluid from glands beside the eyes, and makes a sizzling noise!

There’s a photo on their website of the yellow froth effect. Luckily mine wasn’t disturbed at the time.

Earthstar

I’ve been wanting to see an earthstar ever since I saw photos in a field guide. What a romantic name! And this one was on my property last week during the rain.

Earthstars are in the same taxonomic group as puffballs and some truffle-like fungi. They start out looking like a puffball, then the outer layer splits, revealing the inner sphere that holds the spores.

Possibly Gaestrum saccatum

The powdery spore mass is puffed out of the central hole (seen below) at maturity, usually by the impact of raindrops.

A 5c piece (aka ‘echidna’, beloved of fungi researchers) indicates size. The white thing on the top right is the egg sac of a spider. I don’t know whether the actual spider on it is a hatchling or not, as I didn’t see any others or witness the hatching. The egg sac actually looks like that of a huntsman, but the tiny spider doesn’t look like a huntsman. Perhaps it was eating the babies, or just passing by. The photo below was taken a couple of days after the ones above, and you can see the effects of ageing on the earthstar.

 

 

An Aseroe rubra, starfish fungus, was nearby, with flies happily gobbling up the slime that contains the spores. This one also starts off looking like a puffball, which ruptures to produce the final shape. The spores are carried by the fly to another Aseroe and pooped out onto it, ‘pollinating’ it. This one wasn’t stinky, at least to me, but it must have been enough for the flies to be attracted.