Decline in bogong moth numbers could have catastrophic effects in the Australian Alps

Millions of bogong moths normally line the walls of caves in the Australian Alps over summer, but for the past two years there have been zero moths in some caves. Every year Professor Warrant returns from Lund University in Sweden to his house — and field laboratory — in Adaminaby in New South Wales to study the moths and their incredible migratory skills. Last year he was shocked to find two caves he regularly visited had no moths at all. A third, larger cave in the Snowy Mountains had fewer than previous years, but still millions of moths, he said.

When he came back again this year, what he found was "catastrophic". "I went again to those two caves and found the same thing — no moths. But what was really scary was the bigger cave was also completely empty," Professor Warrant said. "We're talking about caves that normally would have tens of millions of moths in each, easily.

Bogong moths are a very important source of protein in the Alps for wildlife including the threatened mountain pygmy possum and other insectivorous mammals and birds. "Bogong moths bring a huge influx of nutrients and productivity into the Alps," said alpine biologist Kate Umbers from the University of Western Sydney. "Losing them would affect everything," she said.

Each spring, Bogong moths migrate from their breeding grounds in southern Queensland, north and western New South Wales and Victoria to the Australian Alps.

Source: ABC News, 26 Feb 2019…