puriri moth poster project pt.1- process

Over the last few weeks I have been busily working away on my final project for my scientific illustration class (which is finishing shortly*sadface*)- hence my lack of posts over the last week! For my project, I decided to do an illustrated life cycle of the native puriri moth (Aenetus virescens) or Pepetuna. The puriri moth is the largest flying insect in NZ (females up to 150mm wingspan) and is beautifully coloured in varying shades of green (from yellow through blue). It is also long-lived (est. 5-7 years) but most people only encounter them in their adult form, when they live for only a couple of days!

image copyright Nga Manu Images
Puriri moth, just emerged from pupae. Image copyright Nga Manu Images

check out this video footage of the puriri moth emerging from its pupa- the first time its been captured on film!

I wanted to do an illustrated life cycle to raise more awareness about their life history- which is not commonly known (they are nocturnal wood borers). Part of this process was finding specimens of the various life stages to illustrate from- and I can tell you this was no easy task! For the last few weeks any spare moment has been spent rooting around on forest floors and peering into tree trunk holes to try and find the larval forms of the moth- with varying levels of success. I have also had a lot of help from the Auckland Museum and other moth experts.

So, here are some photos and sketches of what I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks:


museum specimen for reference- adult male moth
puriri moth habitat- the puriri tree!
found this leftover pupae hanging out of an abandoned burrow!
yes they do

Back to sketching at home…

outline sketch of male moth
outline sketch of the tree phase larva- they are huge!!
tree phase and litter phase pencil drawings in progress
more refined pencil drawing of litter larva and pupae
pencil drawing of adult female moth

The final illustration is going to be done in coloured pencil on strathmore windpower smooth paper (new coloured pencil fave!), and is compiled digitally in photoshop- I’ll share the final illustrations in my next post!



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