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New Zealand Entomologist 23: 33–35 (December 2000)

A first record of Artona (Balataea) martini (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae)

for New Zealand.
G. S. C. Gill
HortResearch, Whangarei Research Centre, Private Bag 9003, Whangarei, New Zealand.
Abstract with emergence occurring within 4 weeks.
Artona (Balataea) martini Efetov 1997, a zygaenid Additional specimens were also sent to the New
moth recorded from Japan, China, Taiwan and Zealand Forest Research Institute for rearing and
Vietnam, was collected from seven locations, on identification. On 27 March 1998, specimens were
bamboo, within the Whangarei district from March collected at the property of J. Uffindell in Kamo
1996 to April 1998. The moth has spread from the from the ornamental bamboo species Shibataea
original site and is now found at distances of up to kumasasa (Zoll.) and Pleiobastus viridistriatus, and
10 km away. High numbers of the larvae may be caterpillars were also observed on Eulalia
present on host plants, Bambusa multiplex (Lour.), (Miscanthus sinensis Andersson var. Morning Light).
Shibataea kumasasa (Zoll.) Makino, Pleiobastus viridis- The caterpillars were present at a density of approx-
triatus, Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd.) Munro, and imately 1 caterpillar per 2 leaves and had consumed
Miscanthus sinensis Andersson. The larvae have not about 25% of the foliage of the bamboo species.
yet been recorded from Bambusa oldhamii Munro, Considerably lower numbers were observed on the
the most common bamboo species that is used as M. sinensis. A dense litter of light green frass sur-
shelter in the local area. Urticating hairs on the lar- rounded the base of the bamboo. Large numbers of
vae have produced skin irritation in some humans caterpillars were observed at the properties of B.
on contact. Adult moths have been observed mating Blackwell, and K. & H. Mead, Mt. Parahaki on the
on bamboo. Heavy infestations of the caterpillars at 18 March and 7 April 1998 respectively. A light
several sites in Whangarei during February 1999 infestation of the caterpillars was observed on
indicate the species is now established in New Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd.) Munro at the author’s
Zealand. property in Maunu on 2 April 1998. Caterpillars
Keywords: Lepidoptera, Zygaenidae, Artona were also recorded climbing the walls of a house
martini, New Zealand. next to a bamboo hedge at Tikipunga on 8 April
Introduction Adult moths were observed on the side of the
Artona (Balataea) martini (Efetov 1997) is the most author’s house on 15 October 1998, and two moths
common bamboo feeding zygaenid species in east- were observed mating on 17 October 1998 on S.
ern China and Japan. The larvae can occur in high kumasasa at Kamo. The moths dropped to the
numbers on host plants where they eat the leaves, ground when disturbed rather than flying. Several
though the insect can become rare between out- moths were observed at Kamo during late February
breaks (Yen et al. 1996). In Taiwan, the species is and early March 2000.
recorded as having two to three generations per On 21 February 1999, large numbers of caterpil-
year and a flight period of 5 months from late April lars (up to 20 per leaf) were observed on S. kumasasa
to early October (Efetov 1997).The Zygaenidae are at the Uffindell property.Approximately 80% of the
absent from the native New Zealand fauna (Dugdale caterpillars were first instar with the remainder
1988), so the establishment of the bamboo moth rep- being second instar. On 23 February 1999 a bam-
resents the first New Zealand record of the family. boo (B. multiplex) hedge approximately 3km from
the original site was severely damaged by a heavy
A. martini in New Zealand infestation of A. martini. Approximately 80% of a
Several caterpillars were collected from bamboo 19m long by 4m high hedge had been defoliated and
(Bambusa multiplex (Lour.)) hedges on properties thousands of the caterpillars were found both in the
adjacent to the Hatea River, Whangarei (35°32´S; hedge and crawling up a nearby house and swim-
174°19´E) during March 1996. Three larvae were ming pool fence in the suburb of Morningside.
initially reared through to adult (1 male, 2 female)
New Zealand Entomologist 23: 33–35 (December 2000)

Yen et al. (1996) describe the life history of A.
martini under the name A. funeralis (Butler) in
Taiwan, but little is known of the moth’s biology
and life history in New Zealand.

34 Adults
Male and female moths are up to 10.5mm in
length, and similar in general appearance (Fig. 1),
the female being slightly larger than the male, with
shorter pectination on the antennae. The antennae,
head, legs, and abdomen are black with a blue
sheen. The wings are black, and the forewings have
a grey fringe. The central part of the hind-wing is
transparent. Adult A. martini can be distinguished
from a superficially similar arctiid Antichloris viridis
Druce by the absence of a vivid white ventral
abdominal base (J. Dugdale, pers. comm.) .

First instar larvae are very pale and cluster
together on the under-sides of leaves. The later
instars are bright yellow with four black verrucae
on each segment, and are very conspicuous on the Figs 1, 2 Artona martini. 1, adult female; 2,larva.
green foliage of the bamboo.The verrucae, in addi-
tion to the short black setae, contain several long
white setae. The anterior and posterior segments tion in Whangarei in March 1996.The spread of the
are a brighter yellow than the other segments which moth within two years from its original site to four
have a greyish hue (Fig. 2). A brown stripe runs lat- further sites at distances of up to 10 km indicates
erally along each side of the body. Length fully that the moth can disperse efficiently. It is expected
grown is ca. 25mm. that the bamboo moth will eventually spread
throughout New Zealand wherever the host plant is
Pupae grown.
Pupation occurs on the leaves of the host plant, Often the first sign of the larvae is a dense mat of
and possibly on nearby structures such as buildings frass beneath the host plant, and in spider’s webs on
and fences. A papery brown cocoon of approxi- the host plant.Yellowing of the leaves occur as the
mately 10mm length is constructed of spun silk and first instars eat the surface of the bamboo leaves and
many of the larval setae are incorporated into the produce small windows in the mesophyll. In later
exterior of the cocoon. The cocoon of An. viridis is instars caterpillar feeding activity severely notches
similar but grey-white. the leaves. Entire stems of bamboo have been defo-
liated in short periods of time, and immature leaves
Discussion are also consumed. The larvae are usually found on
The method of arrival of A. martini is unknown, the underside of leaves, and are sometimes difficult
though the discovery of a cocoon in an imported to detect until they begin descending from the
Japanese vehicle in Tauranga (W. Faulds, pers. foliage by means of silken threads, disperse from the
comm.) indicates a possible mode of entry into New host plant in large numbers on to neighbouring
Zealand. Ships frequently visit Whangarei from sev- buildings, or damage becomes so extensive that the
eral Asian countries, as it is an important forestry caterpillars are detected.
port. In addition, Whangarei is also a port of entry Neither parasitism nor predation of the caterpil-
for a large number of overseas yachts. A. martini was lars was observed at any of the sites examined. Over
first observed feeding on bamboo at a single loca- late summer 1999 the caterpillars inflicted consid-
Gill: Establishment of zygaenid moth

erable damage to several stands of bamboo in

Whangarei. Control of the caterpillars was
attempted at one site by the use of carbaryl, and
while significant numbers of the larvae were killed,
it was apparent that complete coverage of the bam-
boo was very difficult and many live caterpillars
were still present. 35
The public should be warned against touching
these caterpillars.The larvae possess urticating hairs
that can produce a burning sensation to the human
skin. Overseas, many lepidopteran larvae of several
families use this defence mechanism, e.g.,
Ochrogaster contraria (Walker), Thaumetopoeidae
(Common 1970, p. 859), but this trait is unknown
in larvae of indigenous New Zealand Lepidoptera .
The heaviest infestations observed have been on
the ornamental bamboo varieties such as Shibataea
and Pleiobastus spp. The economic significance A.
martini is likely to be confined to the ornamental
bamboo species, though as numbers increase the
caterpillars may infest other bamboo species includ-
ing those used as shelter plants around orchards.
While no populations have been observed on B. old-
hamii in the field, we have successfully reared A.
martini on this species in the laboratory.

I wish to thank Dr Gerhard Tarmann of the Tiroler
Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum Naturwissenschaft-
liche Sammlungen, Austria for the identification of
A.martini, and Mr William Faulds of Forest Research
Ltd., Rotorua, for his assistance with the identifica-
tion of A. martini and production of this paper.

Common IFB. 1970. Lepidoptera. In: The Insects of
Australia pp. 765-866. Melbourne University Press,
Carlton,Victoria, Australia.
Dugdale JS. 1988. Lepidoptera – annotated catalogue,
and keys to family-group taxa. Fauna of New Zealand 14
Efetov KA. 1997. Two new species of the genus Artona
Walker, 1854 (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae, Procridinae).
Entomologist’s Gazette 48: 165-177.
Yen S-H, Jean J-L,Yang P-S. 1996. On two Artona
species from Taiwan (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae,
Procridinae). Entomologist’s Gazette 47: 99-108.