Sunday 22 September 2019

Bogong moth tracker launched in face of 'unprecedented' collapse in numbers

New website asks Australians to record sightings of insect that is main food source of the mountain pygmy possum

Tue 17 Sep 2019 09.11 BSTLast modified on Tue 17 Sep 2019 09.13 BST

Every spring, 4.4 billion bogong moths migrate up to 1,000km to the alpine regions of Victoria and New South Wales ahead of the summer heat.

But for the past two years, the number of moths that have made the journey to those areas from breeding grounds in Queensland, NSW and western Victoria has crashed to almost undetectable levels and scientists are turning to the community for help.

A new website, led by Zoos Victoria, is asking Australians to take a photo if they think they see a bogong moth, and to record when and where they saw it.

Called Moth Tracker, the website has been set up to try gather information on the migration routes of the bogong moth and what the coming summer will bring for the species and animals that rely on them.

That includes the mountain pygmy possum, a critically endangered marsupial that hibernates for five to seven months of the year. Just 2,000 of them remain in the wild.

When the possum emerges from under the snow, the bogong moth is its main food source.

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