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Bogong Moth

Agrotis infusa

Bogong Moth
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Bogong Moth • Agrotis infusa
The Bogong Moth, Agrotis infusa, native to Australia, was first described from Mount Bogong in southern News South Wales. The main breeding ground of the Bogong is the plains west of the Great Dividing Range, where the larvae as caterpillars, also known as cutworms, are considered an agricultural pest. The summer high temperatures make the plains unfavourable for the Bogongs, so the adult moths emerge in spring to begin their migration to the cooler high country of the Great Dividing Range where they congregate in caves around the area of Mount Bogong in the Bogong National Park.

Over the summer period (November to February), the adults remain congregated in the rock crevices in massive numbers, remaining dormant, living off their fat reserves. The approach of winter, sees them migrate north to lay their eggs, which then pupate in a cocoon in their burrow beneath the soil, with the adults emerging about four weeks later. This annual migration has been the subject of an ABC film called “Night of the Bogongs”.

Sometimes, the Bogong are blown over the Great Dividing Range to the eastern seaboard, causing the occasional  “Bogong Plagues” that are found in the coastal cities and towns such as Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. They have even been seen as far a field as Southern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.

The Aborigines knew that the bodies of the Bogong moths are highly nutritious. In a tradition that began over a thousand years ago, Aboriginal clans came together in the Alps during the November period, taking advantage of a nutritious reliable food source. Using a smouldering piece of brushwood, the Aborigines knocked the moths into a catcher, such as those made of bark, kangaroo skin, or a net made of kurrajong fibre. By roasting the moths in hot ashes, the wings and legs separate from the bodies. The bodies were them mashed to make “Moth Meat”, which was then eaten. Said to have a nutty taste, somewhat like walnuts, check out some of the links below for recipes using Bogongs.

There are festivals today, although with less emphasis on eating moths. The Bogong Moth Festival is held in late November at Albury in New South Wales. The current Festival’s finale is the big “Kup-Murrie”, a traditional feast where Bogongs are cooked and served.

Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Suborder:  
Family: Noctuidae
Genus: Agrotis
Species: A. infusa

Bogong Moth (Agrotis infusa) • Other links

bugbios
Email Its aimed to help you really see insects for the miniature marvels they represent and to understand how intertwined our cultures have become with these alien creatures. Check out the Australian Aborigines page.
The Canberra Times
• Ph: 02 6280 2122 (General Information) • Email Poison Moths!!
Don Herbison-Evans
Email Information on Bogong moths.
Death by Bogong
Radio National Earthbeat broadcast Saturday 3/11/2001. A disturbing story from the heart of Australia’s snowfields. The Bogong Moth is bringing significant quantities of arsenic into one of Australia’s largest National Parks.
Michelle’s Australian Home Page
Email Check out the Recipes link for the Bogong Moth Damper.
Wildlife of Sydney
• Ph: +61 2 9320 6000 (General enquiries)
By the Australian Museum Online: Fact file.
 
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