Saturday, 20 May 2017

A weather forecaster

Ages since I have posted anything, as I have been very busy, had computer problems and not seen any new and exciting species.
I haven't had the time to go searching, so I was relying on finding something of interest just by chance.
Last night we heard loud fluttering against the window and on investigation found a large moth (75mm) which settled on a cushion and allowed a couple of photos.



It was one I hadn't seen before although it appeared to be in the HEPIALIDAE moth family. 
On checking I found this to be correct, with the species being Trictena atripalpis, common names Rain Moth or Bardi Bardi Grub Moth.
These moths are renowned for arriving just before a rain event and often only on one Autumn night in the year with all appearing on the same night.(we did find another couple coming to the light). 
Another claim to fame is the fecundity of the females which hold the world record for the most eggs of a non-social insect, with one recorded with over 40000 eggs.
It is thought that the females lay the eggs whilst in flight allowing them to be scattered over a wide area and that the rain event helps to wash the eggs into cracks and hollows giving the emerging grubs a start on gaining access to their food source.
They are found across southern Australia and the wood boring larvae feed on the roots various native trees. 

Information source  Lepidoptera Butterflyhouse website

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Native "Johnny Hairy Legs"

I can recall as a little kid getting a fright when finding one of these weird creatures scuttling around in the bath. They were not that common but you would find one every now and then, usually under the house or around drains. However yesterday I found one resting on the laundry door but it did look different to the those of my earlier years.

 It did take some tracking down for identification but finally found it to be from the SCUTIGERIDAE family species Allothereua maculata, a native House Centipede or Johnny Hairy Legs . However the common names are a bit confusing as the species of my childhood Scutigera coleptrata has the same names. That species is an import, originating from the Mediterranean region and widespread throughout the world, resulting from stowing away on ships. The Johnny Hairy Legs name is also strange as they have 15 pair of legs that are not at all hairy. The imports have naturalised mainly around urban areas where as the native species (around 8) are found mainly in bushland areas, with this one found throughout southern Australia. They move very fast and rundown their prey which are small insects, lizards
and other arthropods.

 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Moths known and unknown

A few moths fluttering around the windows late in the evening were captured to enable photos the next morning.
The largest was a hawk moth that I was able to identify as a Coprosma Hawk Moth Hippotion scrofa, a moth that is found throughout Australia as well as Fiji and India. Its caterpillars are not too fussy with a wide range of food plants such as sweet potatoes, dahlias, impatiens and fuchsias, however I expect the main food source here is the native slender grape Cayratia clematidea which is quite widespread on our property.

  

The other was one of the timber moths and the caterpillars are a pest of many agricultural crops throughout Australia, such as apples, apricots, cherries, peaches and the one that gives it its common name the Pecan Stem Girdler maroga melanostigma

  

 Finally a moth that I found the following night and managed a photograph with the torch light of my phone. 


It is quite a large moth with distinctive markings but as yet I have not been able to find its identity. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Ironbark blossoms beckon

I have regularly seen Musk Lorikeets Glossopitta concinna in small flocks flying at high speed, which seems to be the only speed that they know. They spend a lot of time in the treetops  of Eucalyptus when the blossoms are thick. However today I was lucky as we have a large Ironbark Eucalyptus paniculata  which is in full flower with lots of the branches quite low that are loaded with blossom which enticed the lorikeets.


Musk Lorikeets are not as showy as the Rainbow but the colouring is quite beautiful in an understated way, The brilliant green with highlights of scarlet and touches of blue and yellow which I was able to capture on a couple of photos as most of the time the birds are almost obscured by foliage and blossoms as they feed.

  
They range down the east coast and around to the border of South Australia and a pocket of naturalised birds around Perth in WA.

  

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

An attractive pair

An unusual shape on a verandah post caught my attention and a close look explained as it was two not one contributing to the shape, a pair of moths caught In Flagrante Delicto.


A beautiful pair oblivious to having their photo taken, for which I was pleased as I had not seen this species before. The markings are quite stunning and the false "head" making them look like something other than moths.

  

It took me a little time to find the identification but finally found enough sources to place them in the COSSIDAE family, Endoxyla mackeri one of the wood moths whose caterpillars bore into the branches of trees, with a particular fondness for Acacia.
The caterpillars are also a favourite food source for Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos.


They stayed in place all day and in the evening the female (on top) departed whilst the male remained for sometime  onlyleaving later in the night.