A dedicated reserve for conservation of two species of Synemon (Lepidoptera: Castniidae) in Australia

  • Published source details Douglas F. (2004) A dedicated reserve for conservation of two species of Synemon (Lepidoptera: Castniidae) in Australia. Journal of Insect Conservation, 8, 221-228.


Sun-moths, in the family Castniidae, are day-flying brightly coloured moths. They are threatened in Australia by conversion of native habitats, particularly grasslands, for agriculture. This study describes the process of acquiring land for a dedicated sun-moth reserve at Nhill, western Victoria.

In 1999, a 4.5 ha patch of grassland near Nhill was found to be supporting two species of sun-moth - a dense population of the endangered golden moth Synemon plana and a unique and critically endangered form of the pale sun-moth S. selene. It is the only known location where these two species co-exist. The land had been recently divided into 21 allotments and sold to ten separate owners, and plans were in place to build on some of the land.

Conservationists explained the situation to the local shire council (Hindmarsh Shire Council) and raised money for land acquisition from two private trust funds.

The shire council was supportive, and agreed to re-zone the area as a reserve in the regional planning scheme if the landowners could be persuaded to sell or exchange the land. The council covered the administrative and legal costs of land transfer. It was able to rescind titles from some allotment holders because they had not paid their property rates, even after being reminded.

By late 2003, the Council had acquired 16 of the 21 blocks, and the Nhill Sun-moth Reserve was officially recognised. It is the only sun-moth reserve in Australia, and one of very few protected areas designated specifically for insects.
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