I must first give special thanks to give to a number of very important people who have helped fund this project by donating to my Rockethub crowdsourcing site, Documenting Australian Xyloryctine Moths. They are:
Max Parsons, an online friend, formerly of London, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Vancouver, now living in Auckland;
Don Herbison-Evans, whose website Caterpillars: especially Australian ones has been an invaluable guide for many lepidopterists, and especially to me;
Kel Sta, an Australian poet and writer with whom I have had an online conversation stretching over many years;
Matthew Medeiros, of Berkeley, California, the recognised expert on the Xyloryctine moths of Hawaii, whose exemplary work has been a great inspiration to me;
Lindsay Michie, of Sydney, who, apart from being my beautiful cousin, is a former Scots' College schoolteacher;
Paul Kidd of Drummond, Victoria, a friend and colleague from my Sydney days whose work as an HIV activist continues to inspire me to keep going in a completely different field;
and Ethel Yarwood of Zetland, Sydney, an artist and a gentleman whose wonderful work has entertained and enlightened me for many years.
I thank you all profoundly; whether we reach our funding goal for this project or fall a little short is irrelevant - your contributions will help make my life and future work on these pages a great deal easier. Thank you one and all.
The systematics of this treatment closely follows that of the Web Checklist published online by the Australian Faunal Directory. Type species and distribution information are sourced from this site, which provided the starting point for this study. I am particularly indebted to this online work and its compiler, E. (Ted) D. Edwards, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, who has also mentored my progress with a generous hand and a stern eye. The list of species and their generic placement is in essence Xyloryctinae sensu Common, in Nielsen, Edwards, & Rangsi, 1996, Checklist of the Lepidoptera of Australia; minor adjustments based of recent research have been made, most notably with the status of the (sub)family.
Following published research by Kaila, 2004, the Xyloryctidae are a part of a greater ‘Xyloryctid assemblage’ consisting of three groups: the Blastobasidae, the Xyloryctidae, and a third, more basal, lineage later established as the Hierodoris Group, Hoare 2005. Scieropepla and Athorotaxivora, along with Nemotyla, are transferred to the Hierodoris group, but are still dealt with here. The Xyloryctidae are seen by Kaila as a sister-group sharing common ancestors with, but not descended from, the Oecophoridae.
With the exception of a single species, Phthonerodes peridela Common, the Xyloryctine genera and species were described by amateur entomologists whose methods and techniques are unsatisfactory by current standards. Lewin was primarily an illustrator; Walker, putatively a professional curator, operated on a kind of pre-scientific basis. Meyrick was a Latin teacher, Lucas and Turner were medical men, Lower was a pharmacist. Since the basis of their classification was wing venation, many mistakes were made, and more useful, readily available techniques such as genitalia dissection were ignored. In the compilation of more recent lists of Xyloryctines, nomenclatural changes have been made without explanation, reference or close scrutiny. This has created quite a confusing situation.
It is obvious that this family is in need of complete revision, based on a long overdue investigation of genital morphology as well as genetic research. Current genera and specific placement reflect an odd assortment of unreliable characters, such as wing venation and male antennal pectination, and it is likely that in the event of a future revision both genera and species will need to be considerably rearranged.
The photographs by Len Willan, which were the inspiration for this piece of research, are identified in the caption by AMO (Australian Moths Online); additional photography is mainly my own, with some work from other credited photographers and various published sources.
I would like to profusely and sincerely thank George Beccaloni, Alex Borisenko, David Britton, Glen Cocking, Graeme Cocks, Ted Edwards, Marianne Horak, Peter Hendry, Paul Hebert, Don Herbison-Evans, Robert Hoare, Donald Hobern, Neville Hudson, Axel Kallies, Christian Kutzscher, Christine Lambkin, John La Salle, Meg Lloyd, Karin Koch, Peter Mackey, Beth Mantle, Jaclyn McCormick, Peter McQuillan, Matthew Medeiros, David Rentz, Buck Richardson, Jayme Sones, Youning Su, Geoff Thompson, Kevin Tuck, Patrick Strutzenberger, Len Willan, Susan Wright, Neville Yates and Andreas Zwick for their inestimable generosity and invaluable help with advice, specimens, access to collections, publications, photographs and resources; these people have contributed man hours of their time; and of course I must thank my partner Bill Calvert for listening with such an appearance of patient understanding to so many of my obsessive and completely obscure ravings! What a lot he has put up with, and what an enormous amount he has contributed.
The list goes on, and may even have to be extended, as this is a cumulative document to which many additions will be made. I must express my thanks to the Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, a wonderful resource for specimens, images, genitalia dissections and debate; the Australian Museum, who are always there to help when needed, and the Queensland Museum, who have freely provided far more than I ever expected, especially in the line of encouragement and enthusiasm, and more recently, with samples from type specimens and images of genitalia slides; the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, and the South Australian Museum, Adelaide, who are cooperating with ongoing barcoding projects; and most importantly the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, whose genetic barcoding not only helped enlarge my personal understanding of what a species and a genus might be, but also has thrown much needed light on all named and unnamed species of this remarkable group of moths. Their Barcode of Life Data project (BOLD) website is a mine of very valuable information gleaned from an immense research base. Their ongoing involvement in the revision of the Xyloryctinae though genetic and morphological investigation promises much for our future understanding of the subfamily, and I am extremely grateful for their high level of committment. My sincerest thanks, also, to the Senckenberg Deutsches Entomologisches Institut for their photographs of the holotype of Caenorycta dryoxantha. Thanks also to the British Museum of Natural History, whose permission to reproduce digital images taken by Patrick Strutzenberger of the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario of their Xyloryctid type specimens allows me to disseminate pictures of species very little known in Australia; thanks to Patrick's work some corrections to our current identifications have also already had to be made. We must also look forward with anticipated gratitude to the barcoding of the BMNH types by the BIO, anticipating also BIO's work on the barcoding of types held in the South Australian Museum and the National Museum of Victoria, more great examples of mutually beneficial transactions between institutions. Without co-operation such as these institutions have shown, projects like this one will simply not get off the ground. My debt of gratitude is considerable.
To cite this work: McMillan, I.C., 2010, Xyloryctine Moths of Australia, Genera and Species, http://xyloryctinemothsofaustralia.blogspot.com/ [accessed 10 June 2010] (please insert current date accessed).
This is a collection of available published material on the Xyloryctines, with some original contributions. I will be from time to time adding new research in the form of full body images, head photographs, wing venation diagrams, genitalia dissections and notes. A note of caution: this is an unfinished, cumulative document, and will, despite subsequent changes and additions, forever remain so. It does not claim or aim to be a definitive or peer reviewed revision.