Several thousands of dollars worth of damage had been done to Parliament House on this day in 1989, and the culprits had finally been discovered.
There were many of them, known as tineola disselliella, or, in English, webbing moths.
A celebration took place to mark the completion of the $1.1 billion Parliament House construction the previous week, and it was at that very celebration where holes in the expensive wall fabric of the House of Representatives were discovered.
The webbing moths were not the first to inhabit Parliament House. The previous year, millions of their distant cousins, bogong moths, had invaded the venue as they could not help but be drawn in by the great lights on the hill. But they failed to make a home of it, and fell victim to air conditioning and starvation, as they became dehydrated with no food to sustain them.
But this was a good thing for the webbing moths. They belonged to the same family as the bogongs but, as family does not stand in the way of cannibal moths, the carcasses of the bogong moths, which had remained undisturbed since their invasion, became the food supply for larvae of the webbing moths.
After eating the bogong moths, the larvae would seek light in which to hatch, so they would chew through the fabric panelling to continue their four weeks of life.
The adult moths were killed the weekend of their discovery, but more gassing was required to kill the larvae and end their life cycle.
The Joint House Department had begun the arduous task of detecting and vacuuming the masses of bogong moths which had died in crevices throughout the building.
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