‘A 99.5% decline’: what caused Australia’s bogong moth catastrophe?

  • Land-clearing for crops in the Murray-Darling basin, the main winter breeding ground for the moths,
  • Severe drought in the breeding grounds,
  • Increased use of pesticides such as neonicotinoids in Australia (some of which are banned in other countries),
  • Increased light pollution, which disrupts the moths’ migration,
  • Destruction of habitat and flowering plants on their migration routes, and
  • A climate that is becoming warmer and drier.

The moths provide a necessary feast for mountain pygmy-possums awakening from hibernation, and are also a key food source for birds, other mammals, reptiles and frogs, many of which are endangered in alpine regions.

“Even other invertebrates, such as ants and spiders, are seen feasting on the moths. The nutrients left every year by the moths are also important to the alpine soil and plants.”

“Given the sheer number of moths and the number of flowers they would visit, there should be strong concern about this”