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Joint Media Release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

8 December 2004

Hunt launches book unlocking moth myths


Mr Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, today released the first study into one of Australia's most interesting but little known insects.

"The Zygaenidae are a family of day-flying moths but what makes them unusual is that they are capable of releasing prussic (hydrocyanic) acid," Mr Hunt said.

Zygaenid Moths of Australia, published by CSIRO was today launched by Mr Hunt at the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

"All Australian species of moth belong to the subfamily Procridinae (commonly known as foresters) and many of these feature iridescent green colours or a wasp-like look," Mr Hunt said.

"This is the first Australian book to reveal both the science and beauty of these moths.

Their beauty has been wonderfully captured in 114 finely detailed portraits by acclaimed artist František Gregor and sets a new benchmark for moth illustrations. I commend both the author Dr Gerhard Tarmann and the illustrator Dr František Gregor on this fine work."

The book includes comprehensive general chapters on zygaenid morphology, biology, phylogeny and classification, with considerable new information of world-wide relevance.

It provides in-depth treatments of the 10 genera and 43 species present in Australia, including 4 genera and 21 species new to science. It also features keys to genera and species, photos of genitalia of both sexes and other diagnostic structures, and distribution maps for all species.

Mr Hunt said this book will add greatly to the current knowledge about moths and will have world-wide impact.

"This volume will appeal to the many zygaenid lovers far beyond Australia just for the plates alone. This is an excellent example of collaboration between CSIRO and the Australian Biological Resources Study."

Background

The author, Dr Gerhard Tarmann, is Head of the Department of Natural History, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck (Austria), where he developed a scientific centre for alpine lepidopterology. He is widely recognised as one of the world's leading experts on zygaenid moths.

The illustrator, Dr Ing František Gregor, Dr.h.c, is known as both a lepidopterist and dipterist but is particularly known worldwide as a scientific illustrator of insects and plants. He has illustrated and co-edited seven volumes of the Microlepidoptera Palaearctica and other entomological monographs and works.

Media enquiries:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045

Images of moths available:
Julie Carter CSIRO (02) 6246 4040

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