Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Published: 2020-07-08

Four new species of Splendid Ghost Moths (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae: Aenetus) from Australia and Papua New Guinea

Biological and Earth Sciences, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Biological and Earth Sciences, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Research Associate. McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, Florida Museum of Natural History, 3215 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
Biological and Earth Sciences, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Biological and Earth Sciences, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia University of South Australia, Clinical and Health Sciences, SA 5000, Australia
Lepidoptera Aenetus albadamanteum Aenetus maiasinus Aenetus simonseni Aenetus trigonogrammus Australasia biogeography COI DNA barcodes taxonomy


Four new Aenetus Herrich-Schäffer species are described from northern Australasia; Aenetus simonseni sp. nov. from the top-end of the Northern Territory, Australia, A. maiasinus sp. nov. from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, A. trigonogrammus sp. nov. from south-eastern Queensland, Australia, and A. albadamanteum sp. nov. from eastern Papua New Guinea. Aenetus simonseni sp. nov. and A. maiasinus sp. nov. appear to belong to the tegulatus-group of species (sensu Grehan et al. 2018), A. trigonogrammus sp. nov. is part of the splendens-group of species (sensu Simonsen 2018), while A. albadamanteum sp. nov. shares morphological similarities with A. hampsoni (Joicey & Noakes, 1914), A. crameri Viette, 1956, and A. toxopeusi Viette, 1956, from New Guinea, and A. cohici Viette, 1961 from New Caledonia. The four new species are illustrated and compared with superficially similar species in morphology and, for two species, molecular (mtDNA COI gene) sequences.



  1. Anderson, S., Rydell, J. & Svensson, M.G.E. (1998) Light, predation and the lekking behaviour of the ghost swift Hepialus humuli (L.) (Lepidoptera, Hepialidae) Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 265, 1403.

    Beaver, E.P. (2019a) A new species of Aenetus Herrich-Schäffer (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) from New Guinea. Australian Entomologist, 46 (1), 47–55.

    Beaver, E.P. (2019b) A new species of Aenetus Herrich-Schäffer (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) from Tasmania with notes on the splendens group species in South Australia. Australian Entomologist, 46, 3, 125–138.

    Beaver, E.P. & Grehan, J.R. (2018) A simple rearing technique for larvae and observations on the larval biology of Australian ‘splendid ghost moths’, Aenetus (Herrich-Schäffer, 1855) (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Journal of Insect Biodiversity, 8 (3), 43–51.

    Beaver, E.P., Moore, M.D., Velasco-Castrillón, A. & Stevens, M.I. (2020) Three new ghost moths of the genus Oxycanus Walker, 1856 from Australia (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Zootaxa, 4732 (3), 351–374.

    Boudinot, J. (1991) Biologie d’Aenetus cohici Viette (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). In: Jazeau, J. & Tiller, S. (Eds.), Zoologia Neocaledonica. Vol. 2. Mémoires Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (A), 149, 167–175.

    Bryant, L.M. & Krosch, M.N. (2016) Lines in the land: a review of evidence for eastern Australia’s major biogeographical barriers to closed forest taxa. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 119, 238–264.

    Common, I.F.B. (1990) Moths of Australia. Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria, 535 pp.

    Dorey, J.B., Schwarz, M.P. & Stevens, M.I. (2019) Review of the bee genus Homalictus Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) from Fiji with description of nine new species. Zootaxa, 4674 (1), 1–46.

    Doubleday, Ε. (1843) Lepidoptera. In: Dieffenbach, E. (Ed.), Travels in New Zealand, with contributions to the geography, geology, botany and natural history of the country, London, 2, pp. 283–289.

    Drummond, A.J., Nicholls, G.K., Rodrigo, A.G. & Solomon, W. (2002) Estimating mutation parameters, population history and genealogy simultaneously from temporally spaced sequence data. Genetics, 161 (3), 1307–1320. [PMID:12136032]

    Dugdale, J.S. (1994) Hepialidae (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Fauna of New Zealand, Canterbury, New Zealand, 30, 1–164.

    Dumbleton, L.J. (1966) Genitalia, classification and zoogeography of the New Zealand Hepialidae (Lepidoptera). New Zealand Journal of Science, 9 (4), 920–981.

    Folmer, O., Black, M., Hoeh, W., Lutz, R. & Vrijenhoek, R. (1994) DNA primers for amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I from diverse metazoan invertebrates. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology, 3, 294–299.

    Grehan, J.R. (1983) Description of the male of the endemic New Caledonian species Aenetus cohici (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 10, 285–288.

    Grehan, J.R. (1987) Life cycle of the wood-borer Aenetus virescens (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 14 (2), 209–217.

    Grehan J.R. (1988) Evolution of arboreal tunneling by the larvae of Aenetus (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 14, 441–462.

    Grehan, J.R. & Mielke, C.G.C. (2018) Evolutionary biogeography and tectonic history of the ghost moth families Hepialidae, Mnesarchaeidae, and Palaeosetidae in the Southwest Pacific (Lepidoptera: Exoporia). Zootaxa, 4415 (2), 243–275.

    Grehan, J.R., Witt, T.J. & Ignatev, N. (2018) New species of Aenetus from Sumatra, Indonesia (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) and a 5,000 km biogeographic disjunction. Entomofauna, 39 (2), 849–862.

    Grund, R., Stolarski, A. & Stevens, M.I. (2019) Rediscovery of Synemon selene (Lepidoptera: Castniidae) in the mid-north of South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 143, 86–91.

    Heads, M. (2014) Biogeography of Australasia. A Molecular Analysis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 493 pp.

    Herrich-Schäffer, G.A.W. (1855) Systematische Bearbeitung der Schmetterlinge von Europa, zugleich als Text, Revision und Supplement zu Jakob Hübner’s Sammlung europäischer Schmetterlinge. In Commission bei G. J. Manz, Regensburg, 632 pp.

    Joicey, J.J. & Noakes, A. (1914) A new Oenetus [sic] from New Guinea. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 14 (8), 282–283.

    Kay, P., Hutchinson, P.M. & Grehan, J.R. (2020) New rearing method, life cycle, tunneling behavior and ecological notes on the splendid ghost moth Aenetus djernaesae Simonsen, 2018 from Western Australia (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae). Journal of Insect Biodiversity, 15 (2), 26–39.

    Kenneally, K.F. (2018) Kimberley tropical monsoon rainforests of Western Australia: Perspectives on biological diversity. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 12 (1), 149–228.

    Kumar, S., Stecher, G., Li, M., Knyaz, C. & Tamura, K. (2018) MEGA X: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis across computing platforms. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 35, 1547–1549.

    Lanfear, R., Frandsen, P.B., Wright, A.M., Senfeld, T. & Calcott, B. (2016) PartitionFinder 2: new methods for selecting partitioned models of evolution for molecular and morphological phylogenetic analyses. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 34 (3), 772–773.

    Lower, O.B. (1892) Descriptions of New South Australian Lepidoptera. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 15, 5–17.

    Lower, O.B. (1894) New Australian Heterocera. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 18, 77–113.

    Lower, O.B. (1902) Descriptions of new genera and species of Australian Lepidoptera. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 26, 212–247.

    Lewin, J.W. (1805) Prodromus Entomology. Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales, London, 18 pp.

    Moore, M.D., Beaver, E.P., Velasco-Castrillón, A. & Stevens, M.I. (2020) Four new species of tri-forked Abantiades Herrich-Schäffer (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) from the “dark obscura clade”. Zootaxa, 4801 (1), 115–141

    Olliff, S. (1895) Australian Hepialidae. The Entomologist, 28, 114–117.

    Pagenstecher, A. (1888) Beiträge zur Lepidopterenfauna des Malayischen Archipels V Verzeichniss der Schmetterlinge von Amboina. Jahrbuch des Nassauischen Vereins für Naturkunde, 41, 87–217.

    Rambaut, A., Drummond, A., Xie, D., Baele, G. & Suchard, M. (2019) Tracer. Version 1.6. Available from: (accessed 20 June 2019)

    Roepke, W. (1935) Herinneringen van een entomoloog aan het eiland Batjan. Tropische Natuur, 24, 96–105.

    Russell-Smith, J. & Lee, A.H. (1992) Plant populations and monsoon rain forest in the Northern Territory, Australia. Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, 24 (4), 471–487.

    Salesne, T. (2010) À la recherche de l’Hépiale calédonienne. Insectes, 159, 9–13.

    Scott, A.W. (1864) Australian Lepidoptera and their transformations, drawn from the life by Harriet and Helena Scott. Vol. 1. John van Voorst, London, 36 pp.

    Scott, A.W. (1869) On the genus Charagia of Walker. Transactions of the Entomological Society of New South Wales, 2, 25–35.

    Simonsen, T.J. (2018) Splendid Ghost Moths and their Allies, A Revision of Australian Abantiades, Oncopera, Aenetus, Archaeoaenetus and Zelotypia (Hepialidae). In: Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera. Vol. 12. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, pp. 1–300.

    Simonsen, T.J., Moore, M.D., Dupont, S.T. & Stevens, M.I. (2019) Testing DNA barcodes against morphology for the ‘tripectinate Abantiades’ (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) reveals a complex relationship between COI sequence data and morphology. Austral Entomology, 58 (4), 792–799.

    Tindale, N.B. (1953) On a new species of Oenetus [sic] (Lepidoptera, Family Hepialidae) damaging Eucalyptus saplings in Tasmania. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 76, 77–79.

    Viette, P.E.L. (1956) Contribution à l’étude des Hepialidae (Lepidoptera) Hepialidae de Nouvelle-Guinée. Nova Guinea, 7 (1), 40–57.

    Viette, P.E.L. (1961) Décoverte de la famille des Hepialidae en Nouvelle-Calédonie (34éme note) (Lep). Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France, 66, 106–108.

    van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Ketner, P. (1994) Vegetation Changes Following Human Disturbance of Mid-Montane Forest in the Wau Area, Papua New Guinea. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 10 (1), 41–54.

    Walker, F. (1856) Lepidoptera Heterocera. List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum, 7, 1508–1808.