With few plants flowering in our bush now, the pollinators have taken a back seat and my forays with the macro lens reveal other invertebrates feasting on our native vegetation.
Common at this time of year, but less so this year than in most, are Eucalypt Tip-wilter Bug nymphs (Amorbus sp.) Nymphs are juvenile stages which look like the adult, as opposed to larvae like maggots and caterpillars which look utterly different to their adult forms. Each stage of moulting the skin is referred to as an “instar”. One Amorbus species at our place has early instars that are brilliant orange with blue-grey edges. These are about 12mm long.
Early stage Amorbus instar
Being bugs means they have tube mouth parts, which in the case of these bugs they insert into eucalypt stems to suck the sap.
Inserting the tube
In the next few stages, the instars are less brilliantly coloured, but seem to have a pair of fake eyes on their abdomens. The bugs rely on smelly secretions to deter predators and are therefore fairly happy to sit still for photographs. They’ve yet to be upset enough to spray me.
A later Amorbus instar
Beetles are also out and about, chewing happily on leaves. I found one tiny beetle, <4mm long, on a Grey Box leaf.
I found another beetle with a very elongated thorax on a Golden Wattle leaf. I’ve not been able to work out what species it is.
Weevils are also beetles and they are also around feeding on eucalypt leaves.
A variety of ant species also seem to be harvesting things from the branches of shrubs and trees. Rhytidoponera ants (or Wrinkle ants) are common on our Grey Box suckers.
When I looked closely at some of the photos of this lady, she was carrying a small drop of fluid in her mandibles. As there’d been no rain or dew, I assume it may be some sap she’s gleaned from the plant.
With some precious liquid
Black-headed Sugar Ants (Camponotus nigriceps) have always seemed particularly beautiful to me, in temperament as well as appearance. This lady was so engrossed by whatever she was getting from this Grey Box that she was completely indifferent to the interference by a photographer trying to get a good angle.
Black-headed Sugar Ant
Of course, there will always be predators. This Praying Mantis nymph was patrolling a Golden Wattle by night.
Praying Mantis nymph
Telling me to go away