Article and image by Michael Mills, community conservation officer, Sunshine Coast Council
The granny’s cloak moth (Speiredonia spectans) belongs to the family noctuidae, the owlet moth family. The caterpillars are long, flat and brown with spots and feed on acacias as their main host plant.
The moth’s wings have the appearance of eyes, to help deter predators such as birds if they are found. The moth is nocturnal helping it to avoid most predators, often hiding in dark areas such as caves, behind/under objects, etc.
Being nocturnal, they are vulnerable to other species that roam in the evenings, primarily bats. The moths are well adapted to this however and their hearing is so good they can detect the echolocation calls from some bat species and are able to dart around and dodge becoming a meal.
The most amazing fact about these moths though might just be their amazing colour, despite their modest brown colouring, the hairs on the wings, when viewed at the right angle, and with direct light applied, appear purple.
If you are wanting to attract some of these moths to your property you only need to provide a nice dark location for them to hide out of a day. This can be as simple as a sheet of metal or similar leaning against a fence.