It’s delightful to see some of the beautiful local plants in flower at present. Digger’s Speedwell Veronica perfoliata and Red-anther Wallaby Grass Rytidosperma pallidum are not only pleasing to the human eye, they have quite a few invertebrate fans as well. The Wallaby Grass can perhaps only really be appreciated with a bit of magnification.
Red-Anther Wallaby Grass up close
By night, the Wallaby Grass provided a comfy bed for a native bee and a beetle.
Native Bee Lassioglossum sp. perhaps sleeping on Red-Anther Wallaby Grass
A beetle also rests on a Wallaby Grass flower
I was surprised when I had a close look at the Digger’s Speedwell to see how many Aphids were sucking sap from the flower stalks.
Aphids on Digger’s Speedwell
A hoverfly finds the flower already crowded
Native bees are really enjoying the abundance of the Speedwell flowers. I think these are Small Metallic-banded Bees Lassioglossum sp. but I’m happy to be corrected. Myriad Sweat Bees managed to avoid my camera, alas.
Bees on Digger’s Speedwell
An abundance of pollen.
On a Long-leafed Box sucker, I also found this tiny cricket nymph.
PS: For those who enjoy photographs of tiny things, I will have an exhibition of macro photos “Small World” at Newstead’s Dig Cafe from December 19th. Hope you’ll be able to come along!
About 15 years ago, we collected a few sandwich bags of Shiny Everlasting seeds from Sandon forest and spread them in the fenced front yard of our place at Strangways. We knew they belonged as there were a few specimens in the bush that were a favourite food of the Black Wallabies.
Protected from browsing, the Everlastings thrived in our yard and spread into the bush, where they are now so abundant, the wallabies leave them alone and we have some impressive stands.
Shiny Everlastings spreading into our bush
They provide an extraordinary resource for invertebrates and therefore, of course, for the keen macrophotographer.
Austral Ellipsidion instar (AKA the Beautiful Cockroach)
Flower Spider (Zygometis sp?) and prey
At one point as I was prowling through the Everlastings it seemed for a short period that there was an abundance of tiny iridescent green wasps on them, less than 2mm long. some seemed to be sticking ovipositors into the daisies. After a bit of searching of bowerbird.org and brisbaneinsects.com I concluded that they are of the Torymus famaily of parastic wasps. I am curious about why they appeared in such a brief and intense burst.
Torymid wasp I
Torymid wasp II
We are well pleased with the results of our little bit of direct seeding a few years ago!
Lifting a rock on our place at Strangways, will often show signs of those who live under it, but often they scurry off before I can get a good look at them, let alone a photo. I was pleased then with the variety of species that I found under one rock recently. The most obvious denizens of this netherworld were some Gold-tailed Toothless Bull Ants. It wasn’t until I’d found a match on bowerbird.org.au that I noticed the absence of serrations on the inside of the mandibles, hence the toothless descriptor. I’d never thought that a Bull Ant could be toothless!
Golden-tailed Toothless Bull Ant
Golden-tailed Toothless Bull Ant
I wondered if it was a coincidence that the rock with the ants had so many other species to look at or whether something about the nest meant that the other invertebrates could hang around.
One tiny ant co-inhabitant was a tiny pale centipede-like creature – a symphylan or pseudocentipede. This is one of the many animals who live on decaying matter in the soil.
Other invertebrates the I found were a brown slater and a tiny golden silverfish-like animal. If anyone could help with identifying it I’d be very grateful.
And this is….?
There is plenty of life still in the trees and shrubs, especially the wattles. Any clarifications about identification are appreciated.
Rhytidoponera ant in Silver Wattle
Ant (Papyrius sp?) in Drooping Sheoak
Wasp on Golden Wattle flower bud
by Patrick Kavanagh
A nocturnal venture into the bush at our place at Strangways at the moment means encountering a myriad of tiny spiders. Some, like this Crab Spider (about 10mm long including legs) pretend to be a bit of plant matter hanging in the web as soon as my light hits them.
This slightly larger green spider was too intent on wrapping up its prey to be bothered by the paparazzi.
Many of the spiders in the Golden Wattles at the moment, are however much smaller – a millimetre or even less in length.
A tiny spider with Golden Wattle flower bud
What did surprise me recently though, was the number of tiny midges that I at first assumed were trapped in the tiny webs of these arachnids. But as soon as I got too close, they would fly off. It seemed that they were using the webs at least for perching. But is there some other purpose? I’d appreciate any information about why they might choose to linger on the trap of a predator. I think they are midges rather than mosquitoes as their back legs are down. And I think the feathery antennae on this one mean it’s a male.
By day, there have been quite a few small black wasps on both Golden Wattle and Cassinia arcuata bushes and there have been a few Eucalyptus Weevils about.
Wasp on Golden Wattle
Another mystery for us was a strange looking multi-legged animal in the tub in our laundry. We fished it out with a Grey Box leaf and having no idea what would be an appropriate habitat, took some pics of it on the leaf before letting it go in the garden. Typing “bug with 15 pairs of legs” into Google quickly identified it as a House Centipede. It seems it would have been more accurate to photograph it in the house – their preferred habitat in which they hunt other invertebrates. There are native species, but I think this is the introduced one, Scutigera coleoptrata. We don’t know if it was living at our place or came back with our washing from a recent camping trip in NSW. A striking photographic subject even if it shouldn’t be here.
Although the number of arthropods visible around our place at Strangways has dropped significantly as the cooler weather moves in, there are still some insects around by both night and day. And a profusion of spiders. I have been quite surprised to encounter a few nymphs in the last week. It seems a little late in the season for young ones.
By day I have encountered a lone Coreid bug (Eucalypt Tip-wilter Bug) nymph on a Grey Box sapling, as well as an adult Acacia Horned Treehopper on Silver Wattle with retinue of attendant ants. The ants declined to be included in the photo shoot.
Coreid Bug nymph
Acacia Horned Treehopper, pretending to be a thorn.
Slender Bee Flies are still taking advantage of the afternoon sun and the second-flowering Shiny Everlastings.
Slender Bee Fly
By night I found a sole Treehopper nymph, again with attending ants. I suspect this one will moult into another Acacia Horned Treehopper.
Treehopper nymph on Golden Wattle
Also by night I found what I think is a Lauxaniid fly sheltering on a Long-leafed Box leaf and a wasp hiding in Silver Wattle foliage for the evening.
Wasp on Silver Wattle
Amongst the many spiders hunting in the bush at present, I found this small gem under a Grey Box leaf. It’s only small, but the pattern of the eyes, the splayed out legs and lack of web make me wonder if it’s a very young Huntsman.
Spider on Grey Box
by Patrick Kavanagh
Shiny Everlastings are a gift that keeps giving over spring and summer, both for invertebrates and macrophotographers. I was very pleased to find a very unusual fly on the substantial Everlasting crop in our front yard at Strangways. Eventually I tracked it down through the excellent site brisbaneinsects.com – it turned out to be a Native Drone Fly (Eristalinus punctulatus possibly). These are a relatives of the Hoverflies and are in the same family Syrphidae. They also hover and take their name from the droning sound they make whilst so doing. Brown Paper Wasps are also visiting the flowers in good numbers. A few Common Grass-blue Butterflies Zizina labradus have been hanging around. But the big winners for sheer numbers at present are the Painted Lady butterflies Vanessa kershawi. I have never seen such numbers. It is such a treat to walk along the path and have hundreds of these beautiful animals rise from the flowers around me and then settle again as I pass.
Scarlet Mint Bushes have also been flowering for a long period this spring and delighting honeyeaters in particular. I was pleased when this Tau Emerald Dragonfly perched on one and stayed put in spite of the camera being shoved in her face. They usually are a bit timid and hard to get good close shots of her.
I was also very pleased to find a few examples of a small creature that puzzled me greatly when I first photographed one a few years ago. The good folk at bowerbird.org.au cleared the mystery up for me. Do you know what this last one is?
Common Grass-blue Butterfly
Native Drone Fly
Brown Paper Wasp
Tau Emerald Dragonfly (female)
Help required on this one …
by Patrick Kavanagh
The rain and spring have brought on some major insect events in recent weeks, apart from the obvious mosquitoes. Crane Flies and Hoverflies have been abundant, but a few days ago it was beautiful Fruit flies of the sub-family Tephritidae that have been on our Everlastings in great numbers. The small bug with the reddish eyes is in the family Geocoridae, often called Big-eyed bugs according to brisbaneinsects.com and whilst they are mainly seed eaters they can also be predators. The little green one is a Mirid bug nymph. Small wasps and flying ants have also been co-operative sitters for the macro lens. If anyone could identify any of the other little creatures, I’d be very grateful. Thanks to bowerbird.org.au for identifying the Fruit Fly and the bugs.
Big-eyed Bug, Strangways, 1st November 2016
Mirid bug nymph