The olethreutine moth, Sorolopha johngreeni
International award for Australian moth research
A senior CSIRO entomologist, Dr Marianne Horak, has won a major international award – the inaugural JO Westwood Medal – for her book Olethreutine Moths of Australia.
“If you have ever bitten into an apple and been unpleasantly surprised by finding half a grub, then you have probably met an olethreutine moth,” Dr Horak says. “They are an economically important group that contains many major pests of horticulture. Many species have fruit-boring larvae, including the codling moth, Oriental fruit moth and macadamia nut borer.”
Dr Horak’s book is the first to provide detailed descriptions of Australia’s 90 olethreutine moth genera in a single comprehensive volume.
CSIRO Entomology’s Deputy Chief, Dr Gary Fitt, says that, in addition to being an important reference for taxonomists, it also makes this economically important group accessible to non-specialists involved in identifying moths, particularly for pest control purposes.
“Nearly all olethreutine genera present in Australia extend into Asia and beyond, so the information provided is also relevant to horticultural pests throughout Asia,” Dr Fitt says. “The book is of significance internationally, not just in Australia.”
“Dr Horak’s well deserved award for her excellent publication – which contains a contribution by Furumi Komai of Japan – is further recognition of the great taxonomic research being done in the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC),” he says.
“Nearly all olethreutine genera present in Australia extend into Asia and beyond, so the information provided is also relevant to horticultural pests throughout Asia,”
Dr Fitt says.
Dr Horak is curator of Lepidoptera at the ANIC and Olethreutine Moths of Australia is volume 10 of the series Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera, published by CSIRO Publishing. Dr Horak is also the editor-in-chief of this series.
“I started at CSIRO as a visiting scientist in 1983 after completing my doctorate in Switzerland,” she says. “I was then awarded a CSIRO postdoctoral fellowship to study tortricid moths, of which the olethreutines are a part, and have been working on Australian moths ever since.”
Because of the pest status of these moths and the potential of some of them to be biological control agents on weeds, Dr Horak’s work represents an important contribution to research on moth pheromones and biological control.
Named in honour of leading 19th century British entomologist, John Obadiah Westwood, the JO Westwood Medal, will be awarded every second year by Britain’s Royal Entomological Society and the Department of Entomology of the Natural History Museum, London, for excellence in insect taxonomy.
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The research for Dr Horak’s book was supported by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts' Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS).