Category Archives: Bees and wasps

Treading a fine line in the time of tiny spiders

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.

Crab Spider

Crab Spider

This slightly larger green spider was too intent on wrapping up its prey to be bothered by the paparazzi.

Crab Spider perhaps?

Many of the spiders in the Golden Wattles at the moment, are however much smaller – a millimetre or even less in length.

Tiny spider and Golden Wattle flower bud

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.

Midge on spiders web

Midge?

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.

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Wasp on Golden Wattle

Eucalyptus Weevil

Eucalyptus Weevil

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.

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House Centipede

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House Centipede

A little late for nymphs?

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.

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Coreid Bug nymph

Acacia Horned Treehopper (Sextius virescens)

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

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

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.

Lauxaniid fly?

Lauxaniid Fly?

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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.

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Spider on Grey Box

Up close and personable

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?

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Common Grass-blue Butterfly

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Native Drone Fly

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Brown Paper Wasp

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Tau Emerald Dragonfly (female)

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Help required on this one …

Of bugs, wasps and flies

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.

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Big-eyed Bug, Strangways, 1st November 2016

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Mirid bug nymph

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Tephritid fly

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Unidentified fly

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Unidentified wasp

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Unidentified ant

An abundance of arthropods

by Patrick Kavanagh

With some warm days and lots of flowering in the front yard, there is an abundance of arthropods keen to collect the bounty of pollen and nectar.
The bee in the Wirilda blossom looks like a Lasioglossum sweat bee. I think the mosquito-like insect resting under an Everlasting leaf is a Midge, as the hind legs are on the substrate and I gather that mosquitoes hold their rear legs up at rest. The feathery antennae are possessions of the males, I gather from my reading. This one looks like an insect I’d posted on bowerbird.org which was identified as Chironomidae. I think the wasp is a Paper Wasp, but would appreciate a more precise identification.

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Hoverfly, Strangways, 7th October 2016

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Lasioglossum Bee

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Midge

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Possibly a paper wasp?

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Unidentified fly

 

Pollinators paradise

by Patrick Kavanagh

The front yard is full of pollinating insects at present. I was very pleased to get some close up photos of a Plume Moth, as they are such striking looking insects. Bee Flies, Family Bombyliidae were cooperative sitters, but the very small native bees were very mobile and hard to catch. What most surprised me was the myriad of tiny insects in the heart of the Shiny Everlastings. Many of these arthropods are fueling the growth of the many nestling and fledgling birds currently being reared at our place, including the Striated Pardalotes now with young in one of our nest boxes.

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Bee on Diggers Speedwell, Strangways, 1st November 2015.

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Fly on Diggers Speedwell

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Plume Moth on Shiny Everlasting.

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Tiny insects on everlasting

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Striated Pardalote

 

Of hoverflies and more …

by Patrick Kavanagh

With the start of the flowering of the Shiny Everlastings at our place, we have seen a surge in numbers of Black-headed Hoverflies Melangyna sp. carefully working their way around the centre of the daisies and getting covered in pollen. I think these are amongst the prettiest of insects. A few appeared to have significant dents in their compound eyes, but managed to navigate unimpaired. Also visiting the Everlastings was a single Small Metallic-banded Bee.

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Hoverfly, Strangways, 16th October 2015.

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Metallic-banded Bee

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Hoverfly.

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Hoverfly on everlasting.

We have a very sizeable crop of Shiny Everlastings in our front yard and spilling out through the bush on our property, all arising from seed we collected at Sandon some years ago and scattered around the yard. A great outcome for very little effort! The Black-headed Sugar Ants also seem very fond of them for a night-time feast.

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Black-headed Sugar-ant.