Southern Pink Underwing Moth (Phyllodes imperialis subsp. smithersi)

– a message from our friends at Tweed Landcare –

The Carronia you will want to get! (The native rainforest vine Carronia multisepalea that is!)
Are you on a property that has pockets of native rainforest?

Then you could be part of an exciting new project that aims to save the endangered Southern Pink Underwing Moth (Phyllodes imperialis subsp. smithersi) from extinction.

The Southern Pink Underwing Moth Phyllodes imperialis smithersi is found in subtropical rainforest below about 600 m elevation. It is named for the brilliant pink patches on its dark hindwing (which also have eight white spots on the trailing edge). When at rest the moth resembles a dead leaf. This remarkable moth can attain a wingspan of 16cm and has incredible leaf-like forewings and hindwings splashed with fluro-pink!

If the adult isn’t impressive enough, the caterpillar is even more surprising – it looks like a mini dragon & has a “skulls head” disguised with large, glaring eyes and a double row of white ‘teeth’. This is what it lunges at potential predators to frighten them away!

As part of its “Back from the Brink” documentary series Natura Pacific is heading up the project with funding from Dr Bonni Yee, (Conservation Office, Native Plants Queensland). The project will also draw on expertise from retired CSIRO honorary fellow Dr Don Sands OAM.  The project has a target to propagate 10,000 young Carronia vines which is the caterpillars only known foodplant. The aim is to distribute the young vines across suitable landholders in South East Queensland and northern New South Wales.  This is much like the Richmond Birdwing project which has been so successful on bringing this beautiful butterfly back from the brink of extinction in the last 20 years.  It is hoped that this project will provide a similar launchpad for conservation of the charismatic Southern Pink Underwing Moth across the remainder of its scattered, fragmented range.

If you’d like to find out how you can get involved with this exciting project and to look at acquiring some Carronia vines for your property in the future contact: Project Coordinator Dr Mark Nadir Runkovski at Natura Pacific ( or visit the Natura Pacific website ( To watch or listen to the Back from the Brink documentaries and podcasts search: “Natura Pacific Back from the Brink” on YouTube or Spotify.


Contributed by Marion Riordan, Tweed Landcare Committee Member