Friday, 11 March 2016

March thoughts on entomology

I have used that title to reflect the inclusion in what follows of some longer term comments as well as a few images of insects seen in the nominated month.

The comments are largely about what has not been seen this year.  Most comments by natural historians (and Serious Scientists in the Natural Scientists) are about what they have seen.  However from my view it is equally important to notice the empty spaces: what is missing.  With respect to insects a comparison with last year shows three big gaps.

  1. The yellow swarming flies which were studied above our pines last year have not reappeared at all.  This is sort of consistent as the swarms appear to have been noticed in the 1970s but not again until 2015.
  2. Giant Willow Aphids covered many of our willows in 2015 - possibly causing the death of one tree - but have not been at all evident this year.
  3. Elm beetles were munching on our elms (and indeed every other elm in the Monaro Tablelands) last year but haven't turned up this year - or at least not in noticeable numbers.

In some recent years blowflies have been a major annoyance around the house and bushflies an equal pain in the butt when out walking.  This year we haven't had to put up the flytraps at all, and although we thought about having veils for our morning strolls a couple of times haven't actually pulled them out of the cupboard.

Moving on to what has been seen recently the main action has been butterflies.

The most obvious have been the Orchard Butterflies flitting along our deck inspecting the lemon trees.  I haven't yet been able to get a decent shot of them with wings spread but thought this was quite a fair composition.
 A rather strange shaped butterfly went into our pistachio tree.  On checking the reason it was a strange shape was that it was two butterflies flying united!  I think they are Common Browns.

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