After our wet 2022, this summer has brought many great flourishings in the invertebrate world. Lots of species at our place at Strangways have made appearances in extraordinary numbers.
Leaf beetles have been particularly plentiful with specimens with quite a few different colourings putting on a show.
Leaf beetle on Grey Box leaf.
I’d assumed that beetles of different colours are different species. An encounter with a seemingly mismatched pair has me wondering if this is the case or whether when the desire hits, beetles are a little indiscriminate in their romantic expressions.
Variety in a species or a bit of cross-species dalliance?
Recently I posted about a Poecilometis Shield Bug nymph devouring a Sawfly larva. When collecting some seed from a Hedge Wattle in our front yard, I was pleased to find a whole clutch of these little ones freshly hatched from their eggs.
Shield bugs hatching
Poecilometis Shield Bug just hatched, all of 3 mm long.
Elswhere I found other Shield Bug egg clutches. Apparently, the mother bug can use a pigment to protect her eggs from the sun, which is possibly why the ones in the shady Hedge Wattle were white and those on a more exposed Grey Box leaf were black.
Shield Bug eggs on a more exposed site.
Also in the bug world, a tiny Harlequin bug on a Grey Box leaf – just recently hatched I suspect.
And nearby a tiny weevil.
A walk down the lane meant another encounter with an unusual proliferation. Quite large numbers of Stomorhina flies were hovering about 1-2 metres above the road. I’ve encountered them on flowers before in ones or twos, but never so many in flight. I wonder if it is part of a mating ritual. They made a high pitched buzz, a bit like a mosquito.
Closer to home, another strange, bee-like buzz drew my attention to the parsley on our verandah. The insect looked very like a bee, but was in fact a bee-mimicking hoverfly species, Eristalis tenax or a Common Drone Fly. The fly only has two wings to a bee’s four and doesn’t have leg bags to collect pollen. Males of this species apparently can be very territorial and keep other species of insect out of their patch. I’m not sure how the fly expresses aggression or manages to fight with other insects.
Common Drone Fly, not a bee!
Lots of spiders as well, including the favourite for this time of year, the Jewel Spider.
I was also very pleased to get some photos of a Net-casting Spider (Deinopis sp.). As the name implies, these spiders cast a small net of silk to catch their prey.According to Whyte and Anderson’s Field Guide to Australian spiders, their wide angled posterior eyes are 2000 times more sensitive than human or Jumping Spider eyes. The retinae of these eyes are digested each day as light grows each morning and reconstituted as evening falls. What is nearly as baffling to me is how scientists worked this out!
A Net Casting Spider
Net casting spiders are also called Ogre-faced spiders.