Invertebrate life above the soil is a little harder to find as the weather cools, although there are still plenty of spiders and moths.
I found a paper wasp on the handle of our flywire door yesterday morning. Very cold, it wasn’t moving much. I shepherded it onto a Hardenbergia leaf and to my surprise it started enthusiastically drinking the dew.
A cold paper wasp
Having a good drink
I continued to wander around the garden and found a few Rhytodoponera ants on a Silver Wattle. These ants seem particularly fond of Silver Wattles. As I looked closely through the macro lens at one ant, I could see that she too was filling up on the previous night’s dew. I wasn’t sure how much was for her and whether she was going to get this load back to her sisters. Nothing was happening fast at this point!
Rhytodoponera with dew
Away from the dew and the insects, I also found this magnificent scorpion under a rock. She was pretty curled up and was not keen on the camera, but I think she was about 25 mm long.
I have been watching this wasp (or a series of identical ones) visiting this same little stuck-together leaf hideout for some weeks. The wasp seems to spend a lot of time snuggled between the leaves but also comes and goes a bit. The wasp looks very like but not identical to paper wasps busily making nests under our eaves. I wonder if it’s a paper wasp and if so what business does it have here (and it doesn’t seem to be carrying off prey) or is a different species?
Wasp getting between Grey Box leaves
Checking out the intrusive fool with a camera
Insect subjects are a bit harder to find at present, perhaps due to the dry as much as the onset of autumn. But there has been plenty of Water Strider activity on our dam of late. I find these fascinating insects very hard to approach with a camera as they scoot off very quickly. I did get a few close up photos and am amazed by their other-worldly appearance.
Water Strider from above
This Water Strider was happily anchored on some debris and let me get a profile shot at last.
But the Water Striders weren’t the only invertebrates walking on the water. This little spider – perhaps a Wolf Spider from the layout of its eyes – made little forays across the surface of the water from the shore. When it returned to terra firma, it was very hard to see. In this photo, it is on the surface of the dam, a few millimetres above the bottom. I presume it may be looking for a Water Strider for tea.
Spider walks on water.
Even with the end of summer, there are still a lot of insects readying for the next season. Paper Wasps are still sealing their nests with mulched plant matter under our eaves at Strangways.
Paper Wasp readying material to close a nest cell
There are still caterpillars and other larvae out feeding up before metamorphosis. I think these ones might be beetle larvae, but I am happy to be corrected.
We also have various stages and species of Eucalyptus Tip Wilter Bugs sucking on eucalypt leaves.
Eucalyptus Tip Wilter Bug nymph I (Amorbus alternatus?)
Eucalyptus Tip Wilter Bug nymph II (Amorbus obscuricornis?)
There are also some leafhoppers continuing their symbiotic relationship with our ants, like this nymph on a Golden Wattle.
This Acacia Horned Treehopper shows the honeydew that the ants get in exchange for protecting the leafhopper.
Acacia Horned Treehopper
Acacia Horned Treehopper and ant.
Soldier Beetles are also out in force and lots of them are finding mates.
Soldier Beetles mating.
And just because it’s beautiful, a Belid Weevil on a Silver Wattle
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.