Late afternoon Bee Flies, an evening ant and a moth of dread

Having not seen any Slender Bee Flies since the height of summer, there seem to be quite a few about the place again. Perching in late afternoon sunlight on the tips of a Melaleuca decussata in our yard, they provide an admirable subject for the macro lens and seem fairly comfortable with the intrusion on their afternoon contemplations.

Bee Fly (Geron sp)

Slender Bee Fly (Geron sp.)

As night fell, I was pleased to find this large and imposing lady prowling around the yard. As forbidding as the pincers on this Myrmecia pyriformis appear, she was quite sedate, but I kept my fingers at a safe distance as I held the twig she was on.

Myrmecia pyriformis

Bullant – Myrmecia pyriformis

The information on this species on Antwiki  says that they forage at night, heading off singly on Eucalyptus trees. The nest may or may not have a queen and workers are able to reproduce if there is no queen.

Myrmecia pyriformis

Up close

Myrmecia pyriformis

Impressive equipment

Quite abundant at present are the adult forms of Painted Cup Moths. I hope that this does not portend another heavy infestation of their colourful and stinging caterpillars which wreak such havoc on the Eucalyptus canopy. I have to say, the canopy at our place has recovered amazingly well from some of the past Cup Moth events and it is important to note that the species is native to the area.

Painted Cup Moth

Painted Cup Moth resting on a Grey Box leaf

Painted Cup Moth

Top view.

I assume the “Painted” moniker applies to the colourful larvae.

Cup Moth larva

Cup Moth larva – July 2014

The Cup part relates to the cup shaped cocoon, seen in the beak of a Grey Shrike-thrush in this post of Geoff’s from a while back. The larvae feed on the leaves of eucalypts, then drop to the ground, crawl up a stem and build their cup-shaped cocoon in which they transform into the adult moth.

At our place, the larvae seem to be a favourite food for ravens, with great flocks working through the canopy and then the leaf litter as the larvae drop from the trees.



5 responses to “Late afternoon Bee Flies, an evening ant and a moth of dread

  1. Hi Patrick,
    With the eucalypts suffering so much damage to the canopy from the Cup Moth infestations, I would have thought that they (the eucalypts) would have been able to develop a defence system over the many infestations to combat or deter the Cup Moth larva? Continually recovering from injury (infestations) must certainly take its toll on the individual trees to the point where, at some stage, they can’t recover?

    • Patrick Kavanagh

      I’m not sure, Bruce. Maybe time will tell. I don’t know if the heavy infestations we see have been happening for a long time or are more recent.

  2. Just fantastic photos (as usual) Patrick, especially the bull-ant. How did you know she was a lady?

    • Kate Sandiford

      We know she is female because all workers among the ants, social bees and wasps are female. We can’t know whether she goes by Windsor Castle rules of what it means to be a lady but we do know from heaps of research that social insects are far more co-operative and invested in their community than we humans are. Male ants are raised and live only briefly to inseminate reproductive females and then die – they are much like the local Yellow-footed Antechinus males in their life cycle – it’s short but vital!

    • Patrick Kavanagh

      Thanks Ian. Most ants that you will see are females. All the workers, guards and queens. Males are mostly uncommon, shortlived and winged as they fly to find females to mate with.

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