Thursday, 8 March 2012

Some insects of March

Most of these were found on a brief foray to Mulligan's Flat.  Thanks to Roger Farrow for providing most of the IDs!  Of course any quips and errors in what follows are down to me.

I will begin with what I believe to be a sign of insects past: some very colourful galls on a eucalypt leaf.
This one is a ladybird as identified by the mouth parts.  Zborowski and Story (Z&S) note that in this family "most species are very small, black or brown with paler markings".  It appears to match Cryptolaemus montrouzieri quite well.
The next is a mirid bug, which looks very like the illustration of Rayiena sp imitating a Braconid wasp on p24 of Z&S.
These are processionary caterpillars which follow strings of silk left behind by the leader.  They are from the subfamily Thaumetopoeinae within the family Notodontidae.  Looking at the site by Don Herbison-Evans and Stella Crossley it seemes that they may be Epicoma sp.  Obviously one of these is facing the camera while the other two have given it the bums rush!

A plant hopper: it looks rather like a member of the sub-family Tartessinae.
A Damselfly: what is it doing so far from water?
Scoliacma bicolor Red Footman.  According to Zborowski and Edwards (my goodness, Paul Zborowski puts himself about a bit) the 'footman' part of the vernacular name is apparently a hangover from the UK.  They are a subfamily of the Arctiidae (Tiger moths).
Here is a close up of its head.
Acrida conica.
A colony of Malagoridae scale insects: Auloicerya acaciaeAs is often the case with scale insects and the related aphids they are being attended by ants (perhaps more visible it the image is clicked t enlarge it).

A female Common Brown butterfly.  They were present in large numbers.
A scale insect.  I initially though these were Cottony cushion scale insects but they appeared to be feeding on (and depositing the products of feeding on) grass rather than Acacias. They were very mobile. running up and down the stems. A view from below and one from above.

Meanwhile back at the Ranch, ants were very busy.  Here is the outcome of one bit of their work by 9 March.
I had always assumed that these edifices were some form of levee to prevent floods from entering the nest. However a comment by Roger - also identifying these Sugar Ants as Camponotus consobrinus referred to the ants 'cleaning out the nest', which makes a lot of sense in explaining why the activity occurs after the rain.

I spent quite some time watching the little people dragging lumps of sol up to the brim of the hill and dropping them over the side.  They move rather quickly so it was difficult to get a good image.  This is about the best I got:
A little help from Photoshop Elements shows more clearly the shape of the lump being carried:
The ant's mandibles are just visible, grasping the lump.

No comments: