Declana atronivea 

Who says black and white has to be dull? The North Island lichen moth – also known as the North Island zebra moth – is a striking looking insect.  They also have one unusual quality and that is they are one of only two species of insects with asymmetric wing patterns.

Research by Cassie Mark suggests this asymmetry may give the moth a kind of disruptive camouflage effect, breaking up its outline in the eyes of predators, making it less likely to be recognised for what it is. On a lichen background this moth can be very hard to see and away from lichen, the moth might just be able to pass itself off as a small patch of it.  The way the lichen moth uses black and white shows it’s suitable for just about every occasion! It’s not just the moth stage that makes use of camouflage either. The caterpillars are also described as looking like lichen-covered twigs of the host plant (Pseudopanax).

These moths are only found in the North Island. The South Island is home to the South Island lichen moth (Declana egregia). This species has symmetrical and less elaborate wing markings.

Check these links for more info on Lichen Moths in NZ Observations of Declana atronivea 

Wikipedia: Information on Declana atronivea 

EntSocNZ Blog: North Island Lichen Moth

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Click on the image to visit the official observation. image © Sara Smerdon image © Pete McGregor