by Patrick Kavanagh
Rain on Boxing Day meant that the Shiny Everlastings in our front yard have shut up shop until they dry out. Large numbers of Big-eyed Bugs Geocoridae have been feasting amongst the flowers now wait for the grand re-opening. Their patient waiting seemed a profound contrast to the manic scenes of shoppers in Melbourne on Boxing Day whose frantic grasping some law seems to dictate will be shown on the TV news. According to what I have found on the web about these bugs, they are pretty serious predators of small invertebrates, impaling them with their feeding tube and extracting the very life from their prey. They do also feed on nectar. Perhaps they are after the many small life forms in the Everlastings, like these that I photographed in November 2015.
On one flower, a thin black tail was protruding, its owner clearly having jammed all six feet in the door before it shut. By the time I’d got the camera onto it, the intruder had emerged. It was a very aptly named White-spotted Pintail Beetle Hoshihananomia leucosticta. Apparently, Pintail beetles are also known as Tumbling Flower Beetles due to the complex series of rapid jumps they use to escape from predators. This particular individual seemed quite relaxed about me twirling the flower around and poking a camera and ring flash within a few centimetres.