As we celebrate Earth Day 2023, it is important to remember the crucial role we play in protecting our planet’s biodiversity. Many of our threatened species in Australia are less well known than that of our iconic koala, but are just as important when it comes to protection. The Southern Pink Underwing Moth is one such species, and Envite Environment, an ecological restoration and biodiversity conservation organisation are continuing to work towards its survival.

The Southern Pink Underwing Moth is named for the brilliant pink patches on its dark hindwing (which also have eight white spots on the trailing edge). When at rest the moth resembles a dead leaf. The Moth is sparsely distributed in sub-tropical rainforest from Nambour in south-eastern Queensland to Bellingen in northern NSW.

Habitat loss and environmental degradation are what has ultimately led to the Southern Pink Underwing moth becoming threatened. Recent survey and habitat restoration work has been undertaken to ensure the survival of this magnificent species by Envite Environment bush regeneration and ecologist teams in Big Scrub rainforest remnants on the NSW North Coast. The teams have been searching for the Carronia Vine (Carronia multisepalea), the only plant that the caterpillars of the species feed on, and have successfully located caterpillars at over 12 rainforest remnants. The numbers found at each site range from a single caterpillar to 66 individuals at various stages of development, some of which were found at locations where the species have never previously been recorded.

“Our work is providing new knowledge on species distribution and ecology, which will contribute to guiding future management for the survival of the Southern Pink Underwing Moth,” says Envite Senior Environment Coordinator, Maree Thompson, “Earth Day serves as a reminder of the urgent need to protect our planet’s biodiversity and ensure the survival of threatened species.” Envite bush regenerators are continuing to restore Southern Pink Underwing Moth habitat through weed control in rainforest remnants where the Carronia Vine grows. “Weeds have the potential to compete with and smother the vine, reducing available breeding habitat for the Moths”, says Ms Thompson.

The project team has undertaken night surveys to spot the elusive adult Southern Pink Underwing Moth. Although they were successful in sighting the beautiful, large moth at one site, it escaped the camera. The team hopes future night surveys may result in successfully capturing the moth on camera. The discovery of eggs and caterpillars suggests that the moth is still present in the area, providing hope for the future.

The Southern Pink Underwing Moth habitat restoration project is supported through funding from the Australian Government. This project is a vital step towards preserving the rich biodiversity of our planet and highlights the importance of Earth Day in raising awareness of the plight of threatened species and need to invest in our planet.