Nature conservation

Threatened species

Golden Sun Moth - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Synemon plana
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered
Gazetted date: 15 Nov 1996
Profile last updated: 20 Jun 2019


The Golden Sun Moth is a medium-sized, day-flying (diurnal) moth. Females have a wing-span of 31 mm; the male's wingspan is 34 mm. The female has a reduced hind-wing and is a very poor flyer. The female's upperside of the fore-wing is dark grey, patterned with paler grey, and the hindwing is bright orange with black spots near the edge. The undersides of both wings is white with small black spots near the edges. The male's upperside of the fore-wing is dark brown, patterned with pale grey, and the hind-wing is bronzy-brown with dark brown patches. The undersides of both wings is pale grey with dark brown spots. Both males and females have clubbed antennae. Functional mouthparts are lacking in both sexes. The immature stages have not been described.


The Golden Sun Moth's NSW populations are found in the area between Queanbeyan, Gunning, Young and Tumut. The species' historical distribution extended from Bathurst (central NSW) through the NSW Southern Tablelands, through to central and western Victoria, to Bordertown in eastern South Australia.

Habitat and ecology

  • Occurs in Natural Temperate Grasslands and grassy Box-Gum Woodlands in which groundlayer is dominated by wallaby grasses Austrodanthonia spp.
  • Grasslands dominated by wallaby grasses are typically low and open - the bare ground between the tussocks is thought to be an important microhabitat feature for the Golden Sun Moth, as it is typically these areas on which the females are observed displaying to attract males.
  • Habitat may contain several wallaby grass species, which are typically associated with other grasses particularly spear-grasses Austrostipa spp. or Kangaroo Grass Themeda australis.
  • Adults are short-lived (one to four days) and do not feed - having no functional mouthparts; the larvae are thought to feed exclusively on the roots of wallaby grasses.
  • Males spend their entire adult life patrolling the grassland in search of females; once mated, the females spend their time laying eggs at the bases of wallaby grass tussocks.
  • Females have reduced hind wings and are reluctant to fly, even when disturbed, though males are capable of active and prolonged flight. However, males will not fly long distances (no greater than 100 m) away from areas of suitable habitat. Thus populations separated by distances of greater than 200 m can be considered effectively isolated and populations which have gone extinct, or vacant patches of suitable habitat, are highly unlikely to be recolonised.
  • The flight period is relatively short, typically lasting from six to eight weeks (during November and December in the ACT region, possibly earlier or later in other regions). Males fly only in bright sunshine during the warmest part of the day (1000 - 1400 hrs). Adults emerge continuously throughout the flying season.
  • Larvae feed on the roots of the wallaby grass plant. The larval development time (and thus generation time) is unknown - it possibly varies between one and three years.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
Other StateACT Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known Not east of Lake George Escarpment or Great Dividing Range
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None