Wildlife Visitors in April 2017

agrotera amathealis

April finally saw the weather begin to act like it should in autumn and everyone has been enjoying the cooler weather and sunshine, including the insects it seems. In fact, I saw so many insects during April, including the discovery of many new species I’ve not seen before, I thought I would concentrate on the insects I’ve spotted during April for this post.

ensign fly on a flower

Above are ensign flies, part of the sepsidae family.  You find them around decaying plant matter.  They’re very small, about half a centimetre in size.

villa bee fly

The photo above is of a villa bee fly. I came across it on the ground and at first thought it was a bee or perhaps a hoverfly, but the villa bee fly is a good mimic of both.

honey bee

It was great to see lots of honey bees in action.

tetragonula carbonaria

It was even better to see lots of native stingless bees (tetragonula carbonaria), or sugarbag bees. They are so tiny, only about 5mm long!

blue banded bee on a flower

Best of all was my discovery of these incredible blue banded bees (amegilla cingulata), a native buzz pollinator. For more info and photos on this amazing bee, click here to see my earlier post.

I saw this butterfly fluttering about looking a little worse for wear. It’s a hairy lineblue butterflyErysichton lineata, and you can tell it’s a female by the large white patch on the wings.

In the above photo is a very small caterpillar, about 1cm in length. I came upon the above scene on a boulder and as I watched, the caterpillar would jerk about every now and again. Having no idea what it was, I submitted some pictures to Questagame for identification. They were not able to identify the species but explained that what I had seen were parasitoid wasp larval cases holding onto the caterpillar, slowly eating its innards while it was still alive. Talk about gruesome!!

agrotera amathealis

The above picture is of an agrotera amathealis. It’s a moth in the cambridae family.  It’s only about a centimetre or so big with a 2cm wingspan and has lovely golden brown colours. This is a native to Australia and found in Queensland. I was advised by Questagame that there are only several recorded sightings of this moth in the Atlas of Living Australia, and few photos of a live specimen, so I feel really special being able to spot and photograph a live one (even if it was by accident)! Click here to see my photos of this moth that are now on the ALA website. 🙂

giant green slant faced grasshopper

gian green slant faced grasshopper

I found two of these interesting looking giant slantfaced grasshoppers. These were only about 4cm long and are considered nymphs as they can grow up to 7cm. As you can see, they have excellent camouflage!

This time of year also means the appearance of these big hairy caterpillars, commonly called itchy grubs but also known as processionary caterpillars (Ochrogaster lunifer). This is only the second time I have seen them. I found several of them at the base of a wattle tree which was covered in their silk. They’re big caterpillars, about 8cm long. These caterpillars turn into bag shelter moths.

Above is a lydia lichen moth or asura lydia moth, commonly known as a tiger moth because of its black and orange colours. This one is a male as you can tell by the feathery antennae.

The above photo is of a seed beetle, previously known as a bean weevil and is a member of the bruchinae family. It’s very small, only a few millimetres in size.

Above is a very tiny spider, only a few millimetres big. I don’t even know how I managed to see it! If you look closely, you’ll see its web. This one is unidentified.

At first glance, you might think the above photo is of a big ant, however, it’s actually an ant mimicking seed bug, Daerlac species.

The above photo is of a type of fly known as homoneura. It has no common name and is about 5mm in length. It looks surprisingly pretty with its golden colouring and spotted wings.

Above is a sugarcane froghopper, Euryaulax carnifex, and is native to northern Australia. It’s quite small, barely a centimetre in size.

Above is an interesting looking Pyralid moth, Etiella species, also known as a snout moth or grass moth.  It’s about 1.5cm in length and was very difficult to follow and photograph because of its excellent camouflage among the grass.

And finally, there were these paper wasps or polistes humilis. These wasps are native to Australia and have a yellow head and black bands across the abdomen and are 2cm in length. These can attack and sting if disturbed. The ones in the photo above had made a nest underneath the air conditioner unit in the bedroom window. A few days later I saw another wasp nest out in the yard!

Most of the insects mentioned in this post were unknown to me, and I could only identify them with the assistance of Questagame. If you’re interested in Citizen Science, check out my review of Questagame as it might be something you’re interested in.

I hope you found this post of various Australian insects interesting and didn’t mind not seeing photos of other wildlife this time around.

This is my participation in a monthly event called Wildlife Wednesdays hosted by Tina of My Gardner Says… You can see the wildlife visitors of other participants here.

 

Mystery Creature Identified

Those of you who read my recent post Wildlife Visitors in October would remember that at the end of the post I included a short video of an unusual animal I accidentally came across in the backyard. It was such a strange looking creature I had a lot of trouble trying to Google it because I couldn’t work out what type of animal it was.

Here is the video again for those who haven’t seen it.

I sent off some photos and the video to QuestaGame to see if they could identify it for me.

I just received their response and after undergoing some of my own research once I knew what I was looking for, this is what I have discovered –

The creature in the video is a green lacewing larva (family chrysopidae, order neuroptera). It’s also known as an aphid lion and a junk bug.

These bugs eat aphids and untended eggs of other bugs. The larva feeds by stabbing its prey with its sharp hornlike mouthparts, which are hollow, injects a paralysing venom and then sucks out the innards, which takes about 90 seconds. It then places the empty husk of its prey onto its back and begins the search for its next victim.

So the big pile of debris on the bug’s back in the video is actually full of dead bodies with a few bits of plant material in the mix to help camouflage it from predators. Watching the video again, I can now discern a few insect parts amid the plant material on the bug’s back.

The larvae turn into a very pretty insect with a bright lime green body of about 2cm in length and have delicate transparent wings and a wingspan of about 6cm. The adult eats aphids as well as nectar and pollen. They are nocturnal and are attracted to bright lights at night. The green lacewing is a common insect found in backyards throughout Brisbane and surrounding areas. Below is a picture of the green lacewing from the Queensland Museum website.

Green Lacewing
Green Lacewing

Interesting Trivia

Since green lacewings love to devour aphids and can eat quite a high number of them in their lifetime, there is research being done on using these insects as a biological control agent in agriculture and gardens. Gardeners can attract these lacewings to their gardens by having a mixture of beneficial weeds and companion planting of dill, angelica, sunflowers and dandelions to help control insects such as aphids, mealybugs, caterpillar eggs, moth eggs, thrips, mites and whiteflies. Or buy a box of green lacewing eggs at Bunnings!!

Thanks to QuestaGame for identifying this animal for me and helping to solve a puzzling mystery. 🙂