Like biodiversity generally, insects are threatened by land clearing, introduced predators and climate change. Some hold genuine ‘panda’ status in terms of charismatic species on the brink of extinction and we ask you to help save these species by generous donation or bequest. Note that the AES now holds charity status, so all donations are fully tax-deductible.
Australia's giant dragonflies, Petalura ingentissima
Petalura ingentissima from Australia's NE tropics is the world's largest living dragonfly. Petalurids are evolutionarily primitive and, uniquely, have semi-terrestrial larvae that live under leaf litter or in burrows. They are extremely vulnerable because of their limited distribution, scattered populations and prolonged larval lifespan.
Priority projects to conserve Petalura ingentissima and its relatives include digitising of all collection records to establish a current baseline for historic and current distributions and field work to record larval habitats and requirements including the degree of ‘terrestrial’ activity. Your donation would directly support this research.
Tasmanian cushion-plant moth, Nemotyla oribates
Currently the only species known in this genus, Nemotyla oribates, is a moth only 1.3 cm in wingspan yet adapted to living on Tasmania’s highest mountains. Here, the caterpillars (not yet well known) tunnel into their food plant, another unique alpine species - cushion plants. The compact cushion growth form insulates the plants and caterpillars against extreme alpine conditions often including several months of snow. This makes N. oribates the most alpine-adapted of the Australian gelechioid moths with the adults also displaying behaviour and appearance specialised for alpine survival.
It is also a vulnerable species. Endemic to Tasmania with distribution restricted to high alpine zones, an entire genus is at risk of extinction because of climate change. As temperatures rise globally, habitats and their inhabitants will migrate away from the equator and uphill into previously cooler regions but pinnacle alpine species do not have this option. Without funds to support the research and protection of this species, it could disappear from our planet without even having been fully understood.
The green carpenter bee, Xylocopa aerata
With a body length of 2 cm, the green carpenter bee, Xylocopa aerata, is the largest native bee in southern Australia. Now extinct in Victoria and mainland South Australia, the species has a disjunct distribution: east of the dividing range in NSW and on the western half of Kangaroo Island (SA). The extinction events are likely due to lack of suitable nesting substrate, caused by habitat clearing and/or large bushfires. This is clearly seen on Kangaroo Island, where the 2007 bushfire in Flinders Chase NP has resulted in a shortage of the main nesting substrate, dead trunks of Banksia marginata. This species does not survive fire and new seedlings take 25-30 years to become available as dead trunks for nesting.
Over the last five years, artificial nesting substrate has been developed successfully and this is now used by the bees on Kangaroo Island for their reproduction. Your donation would assist in the continued supply, improvement and monitoring of the use of this substrate until, in 15-20 years from now, the natural nesting substrate is once more sufficiently abundant to sustain the population.