Timing, defenses refined by evolution

As spring unfolds, I’m seeing a lot of invertebrates around our place at Strangways that I’ve not seen since the end of autumn. Various species of wasp are around and most have been a bit camera shy, but one was happy to pose.

Brachonid wasp?

I think this little cutie is a Brachonid wasp, but I’m happy to be corrected. Other Brachonids are definitely waking up at the moment. The ovipositor on this one was just too long to include fully in the photo. Brachonids often use these to deposit their eggs into the bodies of Sawfly larvae that the wasp larvae will eat from inside. Over millenia of evolution, the timing of the emergence of the adult wasps has been perfected as I’m starting to find quite a few schools of Sawfly larvae munching on eucalypt leaves.

Sawfly larvae

These larvae have appeared on the same trees that I found adult Pergagrapta Sawflies last autumn, so I wonder if they are the same species.

Pergarapta Sawfly from last autumn

Caterpillars are increasing in diversity. There are still a lot of Chlenias moth caterpillars about, but not as many as a few weeks ago when I posted about them. They have been joined by some other interesting caterpillars.

What am I looking at?

As I was inspecting a Grey Box sucker looking for subjects, I couldn’t help but notice one leaf stalk that seemed to be pointing the wrong way. As I watched, things started to change.

Not quite a leaf stem
What a disguise!

I have no idea what species this little caterpillar was, but I am lost in admiration for the camouflage.

Another very successful strategy for a juicy caterpillar is to look spiky and unappetising. This one was on a Black-anther Flax Lily flower stalk.

How not to look tasty!

Lacewings are also starting to appear in greater numbers and variety.

Green Lacewing

I always like looking at Hoverflies, with their elegant shapes and steady hovering flight. Lots of them are now investigating the flowers in the yard and bush. This one was very sedate, resting on a Groundsel and so a good photo was pretty easy.



Wolf spiders are also emerging from their holes in the ground. At night, their beautiful emerald eyes shine in the glow of my headlight. These spiders tend to carry their babies on their backs, which I’ve never managed to get a photo of. They still make an impressive subject for a close-up, in-your-face portrait.

A lichen covered stone makes a great stage for an impressive Wolf Spider

8 responses to “Timing, defenses refined by evolution

  1. Hi Patrick. I’m an arachnophile with Wolf spiders at the very top of my list 🙂 I noticed one of our many resident “wolfies” looking quite odd and “lumpy” in mid April when it emerged mid evening. On further investigation I discovered the “lumps” were a bunch of baby wolfies that scattered in all directions when I got a bit close. Amazing to witness but the image I took is far from amazing . . . but better than the one you are yet to take haha. Cheers and thanks for so many wonderful photos.

  2. kristinmundaygmailcom

    Magic magic magic shots and commentary, thank you again.

  3. Hi Patrick Is this a Wolf Spider with babies on board? I took the shot with my birding camera 100mm-400mm lens – I love your macro shots – what kind of lens suits a beginner macro photographer, to go with my Canon D7 MkII (which I got after Geoff recommended it to me at a photography class in Newstead, btw!)? Regards Rob Loveband Ballarat

    On Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 9:18 AM Natural Newstead wrote:

    > Patrick Kavanagh posted: ” As spring unfolds, I’m seeing a lot of > invertebrates around our place at Strangways that I’ve not seen since the > end of autumn. Various species of wasp are around and most have been a bit > camera shy, but one was happy to pose. Brachonid wasp? ” >

    • Thanks Rob. I can’t see a photo so I can’t answer your question about the spider. The Canon 100mm F2.8 macro is an excellent lens. The way I so macro, image stabilising isn’t needed as flash is the main illumination and so there’s no problems with movement. I say this as the non IS lens is a lot cheaper. Canon 65mm macro is also good as is the Tamron 90mm macro. I mostly use the Canon MP-E65 on my full frame camera, but it takes a lot of getting used to and I still use the 100 mm for bigger subjects. The other big issue is light. If you use flash, a big diffuser is what you need. Lots of people including myself end up with home made jobs, but it is essential for good light. Hope this helps.

  4. Great photos! I love the hoverfly with its ridiculously oversized head 😉

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