Saturday, 9 January 2010

Invertebrates go for broke

Frances has commented how different the bugs have been each year we have been here.

The catalyst for that comment was the presence of a squillion (give or take a zillion) small (about 1cm long) beetles flying around the outside lights last evening.  The image to the left shows the paths left as they zoom through the light while I tried photographing them without flash.  I don't know what species they are and a poor image is to the right for anyone that would care to have a go at IDing the little beasts..  They were so numerous last night that after they had stunned themselves flying into the light they almost carpeted the ground.

An entomologist friend has identified the beast.  His words "It is a small pasture chafer in the genus Phyllotoca.  The larva lives underground feeds on organic matter and roots like Christmas Beetles.  They pupate in mid-summer and  have a synchronised emergence at night over a few weeks and are attracted to light in their millions.  By day they are found on flowers feeding to nectar."

We are currently repainting our house which involves a lot of masking tape.  On taking one lot down I found it had been selected as des. res. of the week by a bunch of the chafers.  It also acted much like fly paper.
This also provided an oportunity to get a close up of a few of the chafers, as they weren't moving too quickly!

Christmas beetles have also been much more evident this year than in the recent past.  I use the word recent because there used to be hordes of them around when we first moved to Canberra (1983) but far fewer in recent years.

This morning I went to improve some Verbascum (Lambsfoot) in the front paddock and on the way back had a squizz at a small pool still evident frm the Christmas-New Year rain.  A recently deceased yabbie was lying on the bank , but I couldn't see any live ones.  However I will see how my grasp of traditional Australian skills (yabbie fishing, not drinking beer) holds up afterwe get a bit more rain.

The small dog went for a swim in the pool which cooled her down nicely and I was about to send her in again when I noticed a 10cm long leech swim across the pool.  The thought of trying to remove one of them from her was not pleasant (for either of us I suspect) so she didn't get her second paddle.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
You could do worse than call them "Little Brown Beetles".
I have a few here, too, in Robbo.
Mostly dark brown ones up until tonight, but I have noticed some honey coloured ones.
Beetle names are too hard for me.
I am reminded of that famous quote sometimes attributed to Darwin: "God was inordinately fond of Beetles".
The attribution might be wrong, but the point is clear enough.

Flabmeister said...


They have been identified to the Genus level, which is quite near enough for me. I have inserted the words in the post.



Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
Thanks for that. Your friend's information is useful, as I have some photos of the same one.
I shall give you a credit and a link, when I publish mine.