The new species of Arctesthes moth will be named the ‘Avatar’ moth. It is a fast and low-flying striped moth that was discovered by Wildlands entomologist Brian Patrick, and caught soon after by his son Hamish, during the species scavenger hunt on the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau in March.
Brian and Hamish Patrick, with Forest & Bird, opened naming rights to the public to raise awareness about the plans to coal mine on the Denniston Plateau where the new species was found.
Forest and Bird says the movie parallels the real life threat to the environmentally unique Denniston plateau — as the Australian mining company Bathurst Resources plans to carry out open-cast mining on the Plateau.
If it goes ahead, it would be the country’s largest open-cast mine on public conservation land. Forest & Bird is appealing the consents and is working to save the plateau and have it made into a reserve.
The father and son duo judged the winner from nearly 100 entries and although tempted by “Denniston survivor” and “Arctesthes bioblitzia”, Brian says the Avatar moth was a clear winner.
“It was by far the best one. It’s a novel name — and the movie is about a mining company that threatens to devastate a human-like species that’s living in harmony with nature. It’s just a really good analogy.”
The Avatar moth is just one of the significant finds during the BioBlitz weekend that saw 150 volunteers, including top scientists, scour the plateau in search of un