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  Mothology: ‘Discover the magic’ (poster print) and ‘Silk moths’ (100% silk scarves) (All photos and artwork from Mothology: Discover the Magic by Buck Richardson)  
 
  Mothology: ‘Discover the magic’ (poster print) and ‘Silk moths’ (100% silk scarves) (All photos and artwork from Mothology: Discover the Magic by Buck Richardson)  
Assorted moths. Photos and artwork from Mothology: Discover the Magic by Buck Richardson

My wife, Eve Stafford, and I live on approximately an acre of what was once pristine tropical rainforest. We virtually border the World Heritage Area. Long before we arrived the area was heavily logged and later sold off as scrub. Nevertheless, many rainforest species survive. For example, we regularly catch sight of musky rat-kangaroos, mischievously nicknamed hypsies. And we often hear the chowchilla, or northern logrunner, but it is harder to see. Indeed, Eve has adopted the chowchilla, or the ‘typewriter bird’ as she calls it, as her totem. She keeps badgering me to record its beautiful calls so that ‘it can be played at my funeral’. My response is that there is plenty of time before I have to do that.

Looking back over 20 years of living in the rainforest, we did take the odd photograph and do some drawings of moths, but we never became compulsive moth-ers, which might be a fairly accurate description of my current state. What made the difference was the advent of digital photography and computers. The last essential ingredient was an inspirational moth, Donuca rubropicta, which I photographed on Eve’s peeling acrylic painting, a relic from her creative past.

Don’t get me wrong. Our house is not awash with moths, just the odd one or two flit in each night. While there are some I see over and over again, like Mocus frugalis, many, like Donuca lanipes, I have only seen once. In Australia there are some 10,000 species of moths that have been described and there are probably as many still to be named. One of the biggest frustrations of mothing is trying to identify your catch. Initially my hawk moths were ‘concordes’ for their sleek swept-back wings. There was also the ‘camouflage carpet’, the ‘embossed brown ripples’ and the ‘two tone green’. Get the drift? Now, at least, I can often identify the family, which makes the search for the species much easier. The rainforest is fantastic for biodiversity and guarantees a huge range of species, some which will not be found in other climates or environments.

 
  Donuca rubropicta on painting. Photos and artwork from Mothology: Discover the Magic by Buck Richardson  
 
  Donuca rubropicta on painting. All photos and artwork from Mothology: Discover the Magic by Buck Richardson  

I had been photographing moths in earnest for over two years before I had my first close encounter with a significant caterpillar and I have had the pleasure of watching a hercules moth emerge from its cocoon. But my real interest is with the moth – the colours, the patterns, the variety and the beauty. Sure, the caterpillars are quite appealing, but they lack the moth’s mesmerising symmetry and exquisite aesthetic appeal. And they are much harder to find. While moth-ers are official, there is no mention in lepidopteran circles of a caterpillar-er. And, be warned, mothing can become compulsive.

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Buck Richardson

After pursuing a professional career in Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane, Buck ‘dropped in’ to live in Kuranda with his partner, Eve Stafford, in 1980. They built their own timber-framed house in the rainforest. Buck has published an annual calendar since 2004 featuring images from Buck’s Backyard. He has also published two illustrated children’s books, a travelogue and a well-reviewed analysis of the Lindy Chamberlain case - Dingo Innocent. Clearly his current passion is mothology which can be found at www.leapfrogoz.com.au. Buck has exhibited his moth-based art in ten exhibitions since 2005.

Buck Richardson

After pursuing a professional career in Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane, Buck ‘dropped in’ to live in Kuranda with his partner, Eve Stafford, in 1980. They built their own timber-framed house in the rainforest. Buck has published an annual calendar since 2004 featuring images from Buck’s Backyard. He has also published two illustrated children’s books, a travelogue and a well-reviewed analysis of the Lindy Chamberlain case - Dingo Innocent. Clearly his current passion is mothology which can be found at www.leapfrogoz.com.au. Buck has exhibited his moth-based art in ten exhibitions since 2005.

 
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