Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Insects of December

Although the start of Summer has been rather cool there are some interesting insects beginning to appear around our property.  My encounters of them on 6 December began when preparing to deal with cherry slugs on our pear trees.

This very unattractive item is the larva of a small sawfly.  It is a recidivist muncher of the leaves of stone fruit, and the only way of dealing with it appears to be to throw ash over the tree.  While preparing to hurl the ash I noticed a few interesting arthropods lurking on the netting over the trees.

The first two images are almost certainly within the family Diptera while the third is possibly a 'true bug' of the subfamily Heteroptera.



I next visited our grape vines where a number of caterpillars were encountered, and consigned to the ground rather than the leaves they were chewing.
Astonishingly, while attempting to track down an adult moth through the Nature of Robertson blog I came across the ID of this caterpllar as Phalaenoides glycinae, the Grapevine moth.  I am reasonably sure, from looking at Donald Hobern's site that this is the adult, found about 200m from our vines on 8 December.  
I have pursued these insects for long distances and this is the first time I have found one to land.  It may be that this reflected the low temperatures.

A quick tour of the bed outside our sun room produced a couple of interesting shaped insects.

The first image is not of high quality, mainly because the object of attention was both very small and very active.  However this does give an impression of the colours of the insect.  based on the colours (especially the metallic blue-green area between the eyes) I tend to  identify this as Rutilia simlplex.
My final image is one of the most stunning insects I have seen.  Unfortunately, as usual I cannot identify it with certainty but the family Chloropidae looks interesting.  Finding a specialist Diptera website was a bonus.
After snapping the moth (see above) on 8 December  I found a few other interesting arthropods on leaves of our grapevines.

From its general appearance I happy to say this is a member of the Diptera.  I am inclined to take a punt on it being a Black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens.  They appear to be basically good guys since they destroy house flies.
 This is a cockroach Ellipsidion australe.
 This is a Shield bug Poecilometis patruelis.  Thank you Zborowski and Storey and Brisbane insects for enabling the ID!
 To prove that I am not leg-ist here is a spider.  Given the number of insects around on the vines, it is not surprising that a spider should also be there!  I think this is Oxyopes elegans: the Elegant Lynx spider

I have also found a leaf beetle.  According to Brisbane Insects and Life Unseen  is seems to be Paropsisterna variicollis.
We now descend into the more typical realm of "Que?".  The first two images are, I am sure, members of the family Hymenoptera but whether they are ants or some other family within wasps is a currently open question.  The presence of wings suggests that they are wasps, but the two 'joints' between thorax and abdomen suggests ants.  I had hoped the dark spot in the wings (see second image) would help, but no luck.  Overall I am inclined to 'other wasp'.
The next, interesting looking, chap was very hard to identify  any further than insect!  Denis has commented that it isn't a lacewing (my initial guess) but the Pachygronthinae - suggested as an alternative - are according to CSIRO found on monocots rather than a dicot..
I have concluded that this ladybird is Harmonia conformis the common spotted ladybird.  This is one of the good guys (ie an aphid muncher).
This post is getting a bit big.  For more December insects (and other Arthropods if any dign to make an appearance) see the 2nd post.

1 comment:

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
Having spend about 15 hours trying to ID a Dobsonfly, (and in the process ruling out Lacewings), I can assure you that your second last insect is NOT a Lacewing (The nymph stage (only) is known as an Antlion).
I suspect it is a Bug, more likely something in the "pachy....." bug family (from the wing shape, small narrow body, and leg arrangements).
Have a look at:
http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_lygaeoidbugs/Pachygronthidae.htm
Cheers
Denis