The above subheading for this section of the website derives from a Northern Hemisphere native's limited perspective. These incredible geometrids are, in fact, just the normal “everyday forms” that can be encountered across much of southern Australia. Accepting (some of) them as members of the Family Geometridae is initially quite a stretch, for a student of this family whose background is only in the Northern Hemisphere! We do not have anything like a complete picture, with regard to the geometrids, on this side of the globe....Just quickly scan some of the bizarre images on the list that follows, and thereby expand your perceptions (or challenge your mind-set) regarding what else may constitute the Fam. Geometridae in the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE:
For starters, have a quick look at Figures 13-19 (Chapter 2), 63-75 (Ch.6), 124-131 (Ch.10), 142-151 (Ch.12), 158-168 (Ch.14), 193-212 (Ch.17), 219-240 (Ch.18), 256-270 (Ch.20), 310-316 (Ch.22), 371-378 (Ch.26), 383-398 (Ch.27), 411-414 (Ch.28), 457-467 (Ch.31), 473-482 (Ch.32), 504- 512 (Ch.33), 516-522 (Ch.34), 576-582 (Ch.37), 597-602 (Ch.38), 629-634 (Ch.39), 657-662 (Ch.40), 690-705 (Ch.42), 710-714 (Ch.43), 724-729 (Ch.44), 733-738 (Ch.45); 755-758 (Ch.47), 777-780 (Ch.48), 822-827 (Ch.50), 852-857 (Ch.51), 880-882 (Ch.52), and 901-912 (Ch.53)....What is most striking to a “northerner” is the large number of geometrid species (involving several genera) that superficially resemble noctuids/notodontids! Figure-numbers for 19 examples of these oddities are bold-faced in the above list....Another feature constantly encountered, amongst the Australian geometrids, is that there can be every conceivable variation in the number of prolegs present, amongst the amazingly diverse array of larval forms. This involves many genera in the subfamilies Ennominae & Oenochrominae, as currently interpreted. The recorded “proleg formulae” (PF) draw attention to this phenomenon repeatedly throughout the book, documenting the percentage of proleg retention, and/or degree of development. This is given at the end of “DESCRIPTION (L5)” in most of the chapters (see pp. 24 and 246 for discussion and interpretation of the “PF”).
All of the geometrid life history studies documented at this section of the website were
undertaken between 1965-1971, while I was renting four rooms at 2 Gulf View Rd., BLACKWOOD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
- then the residence of Mrs. L. Henley (later of Clare, now deceased). During the first 6 years of this period, I held a fulltime position as
Assistant Curator of Insects at the SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM, North Terrace, ADELAIDE. All of the larval rearings and note-writing were
carried out in free time at home, in the tiny half-bedroom of my rental flat! Most of the
B.& W. photographs were made at one end of my tolerant landlady's dining-room table, on a permanently set-up stage,
which allowed me to precisely control the lighting and backgrounds.
Seventy-two of the more detailed life history studies undertaken during this 7-year period eventually led to the publication of a
book two decades later - Portraits of South Australian Geometrid Moths, printed in 1988 as a limited edition of 500 copies.
Presented here are PDFs reproducing all 407 pages of this book [actual dimensions = 13.75 x 10.15 inches or 35 x 26 cm.]
It is possible to first scan through the listing of geometrid species that were studied, and then go directly to any single chapter
(Ch.) that may be of interest. Each chapter represents only one species; see the indices on
pp.1-5. All relevant names of foodplants are also indexed in this book, three ways (see pp.15-18).
Some thoughts regarding application of the term “foodplant” in preference to the term
“host” or host plant are suggested in McFarland, 1970 (pdf).
For more detailed background information on this geometrid study, see pages 19-44, 217-248, 363-373, 398-399.
(None of that introductory subject matter will be repeated here.) An earlier publication, which preceded the
book by 9 years, entitled,
“Annotated list of larval FOODPLANT RECORDS for 280 species of Australian moths”,
published in 1979 as a 74-page Supplement to Vol.33(3) of the Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society.
All AUSTRALIAN moth life history studies, that were successfully completed and identified between 1965-1978,
are reported in the 1979 publication - geometrids and other moth families as well.
Probably more than 75% of the early stages documented in these two publications (1979, 1988)
were unknown at the time when these rearings were being attempted. Hence the need, incidentally, for some type of code-numbering system
that can be uniformly applied to all (unknown) life history investigations being attempted - the more so in regions where many of the species
have never been reared before (see pp.4, 5, 22 and 365 in the “Portraits---” book).
The late Dr. I.F.B. Common (1990) refers to many of these previously unrecorded Australian moth foodplant records in his lavishly illustrated book, Moths of Australia (ISBN 0-522-84326-3, Melbourne Univ. Press; 535 pp.). I am deeply indebted to Ian Common (then of the CSIRO/Entomology, Canberra), and also to Steve Fletcher (then of the
BMNH/Entomology, London), for their untiring assistance over a period of 14
years, with the identification (or verification) of most of the numerous Australian moths that I was
rearing (or attempting to rear!) between 1965-1978. Without their input, many of these species would have remained unidentified, or
determined only to genus at best....
The earlier preserved specimens (1965-1971), that were documented in the
“Portraits---” book (also including most of those reported in the 1979 paper), were deposited in the entomological collections of the
S.A. MUSEUM, ADELAIDE - hopefully, still(?) arranged under their original code- numbers, as recorded in both of the above-mentioned publications....Jan Forrest
(Senior Collections Manager) is now in charge of the invertebrate collections at the S.A. Museum. Some of the later Western Australian life history studies (1972-78) went primarily to the entomological collections at the W.A. DEPT. of
AGRICULTURE (then of Jarrah Rd., South PERTH), or to the AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL INSECT COLLECTION (ANIC),
A complimentary copy
(#40) of the 1988 book (“Portraits---”) was donated to
the Entomology Dept. of the BRITISH MUSEUM (Nat. Hist.), LONDON, soon after the book became available for distribution. This went to D.S. Fletcher (geometrid specialist), who had so kindly and consistently helped me with the more difficult
Australian determinations over the years (see p.371, col.2). Later, a second copy was ordered by the
the BMNH entomological library....Hence the widespread mystification over Scoble's (inadvertent??) total
omission, of my numerous well-documented geometrid foodplant records, from his definitive 2-volume
world geometrid catalog (1999)....This remains all the more puzzling in light of his letter to me, dated 14
March 1989, a copy of which is reproduced here as a PDF. [Click here for a PDF showing advertisement for the Scoble geometrid catalog.]
Other professional responses to the “Portraits---”
book are also included here as PDF's, along with Scoble's - various letters and published reviews, etc.....Amongst these are commentaries
from Rindge, Covell, Janzen, Edwards, Moulds, and others. Inexplicably, ALL of the Australian
geometrid foodplant records documented in the 72-page 1979 publication (see pp.20-47 therein) were also overlooked by the compiler(s) of the Scoble tome - perhaps due to the
“obscurity” of the (international) Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society(?)....OR,
due to doubts regarding the accuracy of the moth determinations(??) - all of them issuing, as they did,
from two of the leading moth taxonomists of that time period (I.F.B. Common & D.S. Fletcher), both
experts on the Australian fauna(???)....
This book has now been widely dispersed to many individuals and institutions around
the planet. A few unsold copies still remain in the author's possession (ARIZONA), and others are
still available from the ANIC Bookshop, CSIRO (Entomology), in CANBERRA. These remnant copies are now being sold for about half
price (plus postage), from either location.
Something to look forward
to: The book contains over 1,500 photographs, mostly from
life, along with much behavioral documentation (“mere natural history”, as a pompous
acquaintance was once overheard remarking). Not a single table, chart, graph, diagram, cladogram, or mathematical equation will be
encountered anywhere in the entire book! And the language is just plain English!!
Pretentious, intimidating jargon (designed to exclude amateurs) and/or popular buzz-words/phrases are never employed.....Well, how could that possibly be
conveying any “valid scientific information”, you ask?? It all depends on what kinds of information the reader is
seeking!! For a summary of exactly what this book is (and is NOT) attempting to convey, please
see pp. 19-20 [click here]. See also the Rindge review (1989),
in the J. New York Ent. Soc. 97(1): 123, which nicely
defines my chosen “niche”!....
I continue to imagine that (just perhaps?) we do not all robotically seek exactly the same kinds of information, regurgitated (zombie-like) in exactly the
same style and format, as if we were nothing more than a mechanistic
assemblage of clones!! Whatever happened to “diversity”?? All
writings that report observations of biological phenomena cannot (and should not) be standardized and
“homogenized”, in order to be mindlessly STUFFED INTO the same rigid format of identical
subheadings and identical boring prose, like a straight-jacket (one-style-fits-all??), and still hope
to clearly convey all of the more subtle or nuanced observations [see also
Standen (1950) and Wheeler (1929), for multiple hilarious validations
of every aspect of the foregoing mini-rant!].
For dozens of examples of these kinds of narratives in the “Portraits---” book, please
scan the “Subject Index of Miscellaneous Topics” on pp.
217-223! See also page p. 21 (col.1) for still more on
this topic. There is a separate “Access Sheet”
(dated Dec. 1990), which compactly
summarizes most of the diverse topics broached in this book....[click here] The latter provides access by page-number & column, whereas pp.217-223 provide access via chapter-number (Ch.). A photocopy of the
“Access Sheet” was intended to accompany every one of the books sold. Unfortunately, this did not apply to the first year of sales (1988-89)! Therefore, anyone now wanting this interpretive sheet is welcome to contact me
and request a copy, or feel free to make a print-out of it from the PDF at this website.
Here is a suggested lifetime project for some
young and energetic geometrid
enthusiast: It would be of great interest to undertake comparative studies between the GEOMETRID FAUNAS of temperate southern SOUTH AMERICA (i.e., Argentina + Chile) and the temperate regions across southern AUSTRALIA. Numerous fascinating kinships and convergences
should be revealed! This suggestion was inspired by the perusal of some interesting papers by Rindge (1971, 1983), depicting a few examples
from the temperate “southern cone” of South
America....[see also the discussions on pages 151 (col.2) and
267 (col's.2-3) in the “Portraits---” book, mentioning the showy Chilean geometrid genera,
Catocalopsis and Catophoenissa].
About the Website COLOUR SLIDE-GALLERY which Accompanies the Book,
PORTRAITS of SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GEOMETRID MOTHS (1988)
During my seven years of residence in BLACKWOOD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA (1965-1971), I was making occasional colour-photos (35 mm. slides), but most of my efforts back then involved working only with various black-&-white films....This decision was the practical byproduct of a very limited income during those years,
and was also due to the fact that high quality B.& W. film (but not colour!) was being supplied to me
FREE and in unlimited quantities, by my employer (the S.A. Museum of Natural History, Dept. of Entomology).
During the 1960's, I was just beginning to “learn the ropes” of insect close-up photography. At the time it made more
sense to do that learning as cheaply as possible - hence the
B.& W. emphasis! I also had constant access to the darkroom-expertise of Roman Ruehle, our
S.A.M. staff photographer throughout this period (see p.372). Yellow, orange and green filters were frequently employed for the B.& W. work, in order to sharpen detail and/or increase contrast (green primarily for the habitat photos on pp.36-44).
Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, I deeply regret that
I didn't spend the extra money, and go 100% for colour film....Still, some colour work was undertaken
from time-to-time. But, due to inexperience and a penchant for experimentation with lighting and
backgrounds, the colour results were erratic at best! It is from this motley array of old Australian
35 mm. colour slides that I have selected about 180 of the “best”images to be scanned for this website. They partially
illustrate just a handful of the 72 species that were depicted entirely in B.& W. in the 1988 “Portraits---” book. Also selected from the motley array, are
a few colour slides of other South Australian moth families
encountered during the Blackwood years...Most of my focus then was on the Fam. Geometridae (as it still
remains to date), although rearings were (are!) regularly undertaken amongst certain other moth families,
whenever encountered - particularly the Spf. Noctuoidea.
The (clickable) LIST below names all of
the South Australian species which are represented at this website by one or more COLOUR images, selected
from the 1965-1971 archive of 35 mm. slides. The moth names are arranged alphabetically by
family/genus/species; also included are the McFarland rearing code-numbers,
and the various chapter numbers (Ch.) in the B.& W. “Portraits---” book. These
photos depict many of the living adults and larvae in their typical resting
postures, and/or feeding on their locally occurring foodplants. Most of the colour images were made indoors, with explicitly chosen sheets of
rigid “Perspex” to provide various coloured backgrounds, and there was controlled lighting as well (both ambient and flash). The
majority were from the BLACKWOOD district, or the nearby NW. quadrant of Belair National Park, unless
otherwise stated. A few interesting Western Australian spp. have also been included in the colour
gallery (from the Geraldton/ Northampton/Kalbarri districts, 1972-1978); some of these western entities are further documented in McFarland (1979).
[click here for the complete PDF of that publication]. All specimen measurements
accompanying the colour images are metric (mm.). Some of the moth and/or plant names may now be “outdated”, with reference to
recent revisions(??) However, these were the names that were suggested at the time these rearings were being attempted (1960's-1970's)....
LISTING of the COLOUR SLIDES that ACCOMPANY the 1988 “Portraits---”
Some detected NAME CHANGES that have evolved since the publication of these
(1) re. the 1979 paper, see pp.363-65 in the 1988 “Portraits---” book [click here]
(2) re. names that were used in the book, the following changes (bold-faced) probably now apply:
- Phelotis cognata (Walker) - McF. G.91 (rearing code-number)
Ch.11 - Corula
geometroides (Walker) - McF. G.170
Ch.24 - “No available genus” for ada Butler - McF. G.136
Ch.25 - “No available genus” for biplaga Walker -
Plesanemma fucata (Feld.
& Rog.) - McF. G.109
(Walker) - McF. G.140
Nisista serrata (Walker)
- McF. G.110
trigramma (Lower) - McF. G.104 (why the quotes? - see Ch.39
Ch.41 - Lipogya exprimataria (Walker) & Lipogya sp. - McF. G.135; G.134 (possibly new?)
Ch.46 - Amelora leucaniata (Gn.) - McF. G.171
- Hypobapta diffundens (Lucas) - McF. Gm.125
Ch.57 - Chlorocoma assimilis (Lucas): delete the “?” - McF. Gm.76
- Chlorocoma haplochlora (Meyr.) - McF. Gm.404
Ch.66 - Prasinocyma semicrocea (Walker) - McF. Gm.89
Ch.68 - The tentative (Northern Hemisphere) generic handles, “Euphyia” and “Horisme” sp., were
applied to this entity by various experts during the 1970's-80's. As a starting-point,
this moth should be
compared with the type of “E.” plesia Turner, which was
(still is ?) in
the Museum of
Victoria, Melbourne; see further discussion on p.348 (col.1), quoting a
letter I received
from A. Neboiss, dated 15 Dec. 1984. See also McFarland (1979:
dot 7) for additional
remarks....This may, in fact, be an undescribed sp., for which there is
no available generic
name(??) - McF. G.196
(Lower) - McF. G.98
(Gn.) - McF. G.92
Most of the above changes
were drawn from Nielsen, Edwards & Rangsi (1996) - Checklist of
the Lepidoptera of Australia (pp. ).
Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera, Vol. 4.
Regarding the PHOTOGRAPHS in the 1988 “Portraits---” book, there is a brief summary of
the methods employed on pp.369-370. Some of the REARING & LARVAL PRESERVATION TECHNIQUES are
discussed on pp.366-368, including a detailed description of the miraculous “Henne Pupa-Pot”
(p.366, col.3 to p.367), which greatly contributed to the success of my rearing efforts in South Australia!
I refuse to introduce rulers, scales, or other (ugly) artificial intrusions into my photos, so the
relevant measurements (in mm.) are always recorded elsewhere - either directly under the photos (in the case
of colour images), or somewhere in the text nearby (in the case of the B.& W. images in the
“Portraits---” book). See pp.20-26 and p.378 (under “WINGS”), for more explicit details on this topic.
U.S. COPYRIGHT: TX 2-460-715 (28 NOV. 1988)
DIMENSIONS: 13.75 x 10.15 x .75 inches (35 x
26 x 2 cm.)
SHIPPING WEIGHT: Slightly over 4
lbs. (close to 1.6 kg.)
BRITISH SPELLING: This was intentional - NOT an oversight! (see
p.398, col.1, parag.4).
Final thought: Please
take just a few minutes to read the comments and/or quotations on pages 320 (A.F. Skutch) and 397-400 (esp. 398), before delving further into the book. Thank you!
- The Author (2009)