A Puriri Moth. They live for 5 or 6 years as a grub in tree bark. Just 2 days as a moth. I photographed this one at the Natural History Museum as part of a series of New Zealand insects. www.caseymoore.com
Meet the Puriri Moth, Aenetus virescens, from the Hepialidae family! Endemic only to the North Island of New Zealand, these striking green moths are the largest in their country—they have a wingspan of up to 15 centimeters. These interesting animals begin their lives as drab brown caterpillars in bracket fungus, although they eventually burrow into tree trunks, making a “tunnel”, the opening protected by a thick layer of silk. There, the caterpillars feed off of wounded bark, pupate, and eventually emerge as adults. One interesting fact about these caterpillars is that it is estimated they can live about seven years! Once the adult emerges, though, they are unable to eat and only live a few days. Puriri moths are also known as pepe tuna, mokoroa, ngutara, and pungoungou by the Maori.