Help the Southern Pink Underwing Moth emerge Upper Wilsons Creek, New South Wales
The Southern Pink Underwing Moth (Phyllodes imperialis smithersi) is named for the brilliant pink patches on its dark hindwing. It is so rarely recorded it is categorised as a data-deficient species and this is reflected in the small number of localities where it has been recorded in Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales. It is dependent on the rainforest vine Carronia (Carronia multisepalea) as the host plant for its larvae. The adults feed on rotting fruit.
Unlike many other moths it is not believed to be attracted to light.
It is listing as endangered in both New South Wales and Queensland.
The Southern Pink Underwing Moth is only found in subtropical rainforest below about 600m elevation. Potential breeding habitat is restricted to areas where the caterpillar’s food plant, a native rainforest vine, Carronia multisepalea, occurs.
Unfortunately, 99% of lowland subtropical rainforest in Northern New South Wales has been cleared.
This important project will plant 200 and Carronia vines and restore the subtropical rainforest at one of the only known locations for this endangered moth.
Threats to the the Southern Pink Underwing Moth include the loss of its subtropical rainforest habitat and its degradation through invasion of exotic plants. The Southern Pink Underwing Moth require the low light conditions of the rainforest in order to breed so restoring subtropical rainforest is an important recovery action.
We will plant two-hundred Carronia vines and restore the subtropical rainforest at the project site at Upper Wilsons Creek, inland from Byron Bay. This one of the only known locations for this endangered moth. The Carronia vines will be propagated from cuttings and be cared for in the nursery. The Carronia vines will support the expansion of habitat for the Southern Pink Underwing Moth. This will align with additional restoration of the subtropical rainforest on the site that has seen thirty-eight hectares restored in the past decade by rainforest regenerators using chemical free methods.
As the project is implemented, we will undertake surveys for confirmation the Southern Pink Underwing Moth is making further use of the site.
Restoring the subtropical rainforest will also potentially benefit twenty-five threatened species found at Wilsons Creek. Lowland Subtropical Rainforest is an Endangered Ecological Community in NSW.
Urgency and action:
As the Southern Pink Underwing Moth is known from only a small number of locations any disturbance of these sites could push the species closer to extinction. Expanding habitat for the moths at Wilsons Creek is an important action for this endangered species.
The nonprofit organisation Reforest Now will implement this project. Their nursery in Mullumbimby will be used to propagate the two-hundred Carronia vines.