Big wooden moth: ‘very heavy’ insect hardly ever seen by people noticed at Australian college | Queensland

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A giant moth with a wingspan of up to 25 cm was found in a school in Queensland next to a rainforest.

The builders found the giant wooden moth, the heaviest moth in the world, while building new classrooms at Mount Cotton State School.

There are giant wooden moths on the coast of Queensland and New South Wales, according to the Queensland Museum. Females can weigh up to 30 grams and have a wingspan of up to 25 cm. Men are half the size.

They have an extremely short life cycle, with adults only living a few days. They die after mating and laying eggs.

The headmaster, Meagan Steward, said the moth was “an amazing find”.

Steward said due to the location of the school, it was not uncommon to find an array of animals on the premises, including wild turkeys, wallabies, koalas, ducks, the occasional snake and once a turtle in the library. “We had never seen a huge wooden moth,” she said on Wednesday.

Giant wooden moths can be found along the Queensland and NSW coasts. Females can weigh up to 30 grams and have a wingspan of up to 25 cm. Photo: Mount Cotton State School / Facebook

The first ABC news report and photos of the moth attracted so much media attention that the school was forced to direct questions about the moth to the Queensland Education Department.

Chris Lambkin, the curator of entomology at the Queensland Museum, said giant wooden moths, or Endoxyla cinera, could be found from the Queensland coast to southern New South Wales. Although it’s not uncommon for people to rarely see them, she said.

Lambkin said this was likely due to several factors including the short lifespan of the adult moths and the fact that most people lived in urban areas where the invertebrate was not found.

“The female moths don’t fly very well either,” she said.

“Most people, when they see you, show up as adults and crawl up a log or fence post and wait for the man to come with you. Usually people don’t see them with their wings spread out so you don’t realize how big they are, but when you actually lift them they are very heavy. “

As small caterpillars, the invertebrates have purple and white stripes and in parks and gardens burrow into the trunks of eucalyptus with smooth bark. They lose the banding when they grow into larger maggots.

According to Lambkin, the adult female moths do not feed on fats stored as larvae while they eat in the tree trunk.

“The first time we see them when they’re over an inch long and as thick as a pencil,” she said.

The entomologist said little was known about the first year of the larval stage, which lasts about three years. The adult female moths can be up to 15 cm long.

There are around 60 species of wooden moths in Australia, according to the Queensland Museum, but not all are as large as the giant wooden moths and do not all feed on eucalyptus.

The builders took a photo of their find before returning the moth to the rainforest.

Grades 4-5 in the new building were asked to come up with a creative writing concept after showing a picture of the moth and decided to write about a moth invasion. “The students wrote some very creative, imaginative scripts – including Ms. Wilson, who is being eaten by the giant wooden moth,” said Steward.