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Rare Moth Found

Rare Moth Found

Wangaratta Discovery Prompts Conservation Push

A very rare native moth has been found in Wangaratta, by a man walking his dog.

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In December last year, Will Ford stumbled across a moth he didn't recognise in the grass near the Barr Reserve, took a photo and uploaded it to the citizen science app, iNaturalist.

But it was only recently that it was confirmed his find was the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth.

"It's really rare to find a critically endangered species anywhere, let alone in an urban area in the middle of Wangaratta," says Mr Ford.

This is the first time the moth - which is only found in November and December - has been officially identified in Wangaratta.

Mr Ford has now joined Wangaratta Land Care and Sustainability, and the group is hoping to work on preserving the moth's habitat alongside the council. They are particularly emphasising the importance of wallaby grass, a native ground cover species that grows in the area.

"The species is listed under federal legislation, and that means that if there's any proposed impact to that site then due consideration needs to be given to the conservation of the moth," explains Mr Ford.

"But I think we should also be considering longer term, larger habitat improvement actions. For example, there's an old landfill site right next to where we found the moth.

"It's been there since the 60s and nothing has been done about it, and it's a bit of an eyesore on the Wangaratta landscape. I think that could be rehabilitated, and that would be a really great opportunity to increase the habitat area."

The conservation group is planning to search for more of the moths come November, and is urging locals to take care in the area in the meantime, particularly to avoid driving their cars on the grass behind the reserve.

"They're a part of our natural heritage," says Ford. "So it would be a great shame if we were to see a species like this become extinct, just like other local species that are critically endangered, like the Swift parrot and the Regent honeyeater."

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