Aenetus virescens

The largest endemic moth in New Zealand with a wingspan of up to wingspan up to 150 mm – and so green! Although the colour can vary a lot.

Puriri moths belong to the family of ghost moths and have a fascinating life circle. The tiny first larval stage that hatches from the eggs that are scattered across the forest floor crawls along to find a bracket fungus that grows on trunks and logs.

After moulting to the next stage, it crawls up a tree trunk, gnawing a 7-shaped tunnel in the wood, and spins a silken covering to hide he entrance. Hard ridges all over the body help the caterpillar to move inside the tunnel. The hungry caterpillar feeds more and more tissue around the opening and thrives of the re-growing callus. You will find a tree with a puriri burrow if you spot the holes with a bulge around it.

Up to six years later, the larva is ready to pupate and crawls back into the vertical part of the tunnel and shapeshifts into an adult.

The wonderful moth lives only for a few days and can’t even eat. After mating females lay approximately 2000 eggs and then die soon afterwards. These moths are only found in the North Island.

Check these links for more info on Pūriri Moths in NZ Observations of Aenetus virescens

Wikipedia: Information on Aenetus virescens

Puketi Forest Trust: Pūriri Moth

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Click on the image to visit the official observation. image © Joel Knight image by Chun Li