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Moth of the Week: Puriri Moth

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.

http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/education/insects_spiders/pare/puriri_moth.asp

http://www.nzgeographic.co.nz/resources-for-students/puriri-trees-puriri-moths

http://www.monarch.org.nz/monarch/forum/topic/peptuna-puriri-moth-or-ghost-moth

Exploration 4 - Arataki Visitors Centre & Plant Identification Walk

This month we planned a special winter expedition to Arataki Visitors Centre, ironically, we had what was probably our most sunny day as yet! ;)

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We met outside the centre and travelled the path to use the special underground tunnel they have to access the Plant Identification Trail. The trail itself took us just over ten minutes to complete but the walk from the centre to that point was approximately another ten or so minutes so a few little legs where getting tired at that point.

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We ventured back to the centre and had our morning tea to the side of the centre where we were shown how to hunt for bugs (such as hoppers and millipedes) in the leaf litter and where to find the holes in the puriri trees made by moths that wetas live in!

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After letting off a bit of steam, we ventured up the wooden path ways with impressive look out points, to the main centre. Here we got to see the geckos, wetas and fish they had on display as well as explore the pathways and look outs around the centre.

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There is also an interactive kids section which features a microscope hooked up to a monitor under which you can see various insects on display in Petri dishes. There are also puzzles, books and soft toys all related to the surrounding native area & an interactive native bird display that was a hit with everyone. There was also a huge catapiller the kids loved climbing on and a model of a Moa which also drew a lot of interest!

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We had a large group this month, approximately 22 of us in total, which made capturing the event a little difficult in the process. A big thanks to Heidi Greenslade for her photo contributions for this review! :)

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We are taking suggestions on where we should explore next month, feel free to comment here or see more on the Facebook event - https://www.facebook.com/events/703472769724747

Hope to see you there! :)

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