Agriculture plays an important role in human life. Through this activity, humans can produce adequate food to ensure their survival. However, agricultural practices have major effects on the ecosystem. In Australia, the Golden Sun Moth has been affected significantly by farming. While this diurnal species was once widespread throughout southeastern Australia, its numbers have decreased dramatically. Currently, the moth is in the list of most endangered insect species in Australia. This paper will highlight the negative effects that farming has had on the golden sun moth.
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Agriculture has led to the destruction of the natural habitat of the moth. The golden sun moth is found in the temperate native grasslands. The demand for more agricultural land has led to vast tracks of grasslands being cleared for farming. O’Dwyer and Attiwill (2000) state that when land is cleared for agriculture purposes, large numbers of the moth population are destroyed. Unlike other species of moths that can migrate to other areas in search of suitable habitats to colonize, the golden sun moth can only travel short distances. Grund (2009) documents that this moth flies at a relatively slow speed, and the females are semi-flightless, which inhibits their ability to travel. For this reason, when their current habitat is cleared for farming, the moths that previously occupied the habitat are likely to be destroyed.
Farming has reduced the availability of the grass needed to sustain the golden sun moth in its early development state. Unlike most other insects that can survive on a variety of plants in their larva state, this moth requires grass for its survival. Staak (2009) documents that the larvae of the golden sun moth feed almost exclusively on the native Wallaby grass found in the Australian grassland. Farming practices have led to the dramatic reduction of the grass needed for the survival of this moth. The original Wallaby grass species has decreased dramatically due to extensive grazing. Staak (2009) notes that grazing by farm animals leads to a competition for the grass needed for the moth’s survival. Without adequate grass supplies, the golden sun larva cannot survive into its moth state.
The golden sun moths are also affected by the agricultural practices of insecticide and herbicide use. Modern farming relies heavily on the use of agrichemicals. These farm inputs are used to protect crops from pest and diseases, therefore, increasing farm yield. However, the chemicals adversely affect the golden sun moths. According to Grund (2009), the repeated use of broad-acre herbicides and insecticides leads to the destruction of the moths. The moths are not tolerant of the chemicals, and they are poisoned by the exposure. The larva and pupae that live underground can also be destroyed by the agro-chemicals (Grund 2009). As such, these chemicals, which are essential for modern farming, poison the moths leading to their widespread destruction.
The future of the once widespread golden sun moth is uncertain. From the information given in this paper, it is clear that agriculture has played a major role in reducing the population of this moth in Australia. There are various conservation efforts being implemented to prevent the extinction of the golden sun moth. These efforts include restricting agricultural practices in some of the natural habitats of the moth. Such efforts reduce the negative effects of farming on the moths ensuring their survival.
Grund, R 2009, South Australian Sun-Moths. Web.
O’Dwyer, C & Attiwill P 2000, ‘Restoration of a Native Grassland as Habitat for the Golden Sun Moth Synemon plana Walker (Lepidoptera; Castniidae) at Mount Piper, Australia’, Restoration Ecology, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 170-174.
Staak, A 2009, Sun Moth Count butterfly monitoring in Australia. Web.