Australia’s bogong moth invasion turns even yawning into a potential health hazard - Australasia - World - The Independent

Australia’s bogong moth invasion turns even yawning into a potential health hazard

 

Sydney

A week before Australian politicians reconvene after a lengthy spring break, Parliament House in Canberra has been invaded by a different kind of pest: swarms of large bogong moths, breaking their journey on their annual flight south.

The native moths, which have a wingspan of up to 5cm, have occupied both parliamentary chambers, carpeting ceilings, walls and windows. Political journalists, already installed in their offices, complain of the brown, furry insects crawling up their trouser legs and drowning in cups of tea. According to one report, “even an inadvertent morning yawn can become a health hazard”.

Bogongs fly south in search of the cooler climes of New South Wales’s Snowy Mountains and the Victorian Alps. On their way, they encounter the bright lights of Sydney and Canberra. And while they regularly gatecrash barbecues at this time of year, the moths have appeared earlier than usual, stoking fears of a bumper bogong year.

With its floodlit flagpole, night-time illumination and hilltop setting, Parliament House – Canberra’s largest building – has been a favourite bogong haunt since it opened in 1988. The moths even prompted an official report in 2005, which described Capital Hill as “a giant light trap”.

This year, the moths have been setting off fire alarms, prompting several false emergency responses. They have also been pursued along the corridors of power by ravenous birds.

Bogongs appear to have been causing havoc ever since Europeans arrived in Australia. Records show that they invaded a Sydney church in 1865, forcing a service to be abandoned. In the mid-1970s, they swarmed into a new, brightly lit building in Canberra in such numbers that the lifts stopped working. More recently, the moths were uninvited guests at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where they  dive-bombed performers and athletes, even perching on Yvonne Kenny, the celebrated soprano, as she sang during the closing ceremony.

The moths, which breed in the plains of southern Queensland and western New South Wales, migrate up to 625 miles during spring. Warm weather, which caused the larvae to hatch early, and strong winds, which helped propel the insects south, are blamed for their unseasonably early appearance this year. Linda Broome, a New South Wales threatened-species officer, said it was the earliest the bogongs had been spotted since 1986, when she began monitoring them. “It’s certainly going to be a very big year,” she told ABC radio.

Managers have tried to “moth proof” Parliament Hosue but the bogongs have reached plague proportions.

“You open the door to your office and they’re sort of falling from the ceiling,” one parliamentary journalist, Ben Packham, told the ABC. “You go and get your cup of tea in the morning, and you’ll see three or four dead ones… drowned in a saucer.”

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week