Increase in native hawkmoths, Heron Island

Photo of a native hawkmoth caterpillar

Native hawkmoth caterpillar on Heron Island.

Photo of a native hawkmoth caterpillar

Native hawkmoth caterpillar on Heron Island.

Visitors and staff at Heron Island may notice an increase in numbers of the Australian native hawkmoths and hawkmoth caterpillars on the island over the next few weeks.

Rangers from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) are tracking a natural phenomenon in Capricornia Cays National Park, during which hawkmoth numbers increase for a short period of time.

Following recent steady rain in the area, the hawkmoth larvae drop from the Pisonia trees which grow in the park.

This, combined with the annual seabird nesting season which increases the amount of nutrition on the island, creates a suitable environment for the moths to develop.

Visitors and staff may also notice a dropping of leaves from the Pisonia forests; however, this is also part of a natural process, and the trees will regenerate.

Native hawkmoths are protected and play an important role in cycling nutrients within the national park by increasing turnover rates of the high-nutrient environment.

QPWS tracks the occurrence of these outbreaks under the QPWS Island Watch and Health Check systems.

See all current QPWS Park Alerts.

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