A nest of the large wood-chewing Camponotus ants, in a dead Banksia log. The large heavy jaws are ideal for the job of opening galleries in soft old logs. They can damage houses, but generally only parts that have already been damaged by moisture. They don’t eat wood, however, preferring honeydew and dead insects.
Hammond Park, Perth
#838 - Camponotus sp. - Carpenter Ant Queen
As you can see, Carpenter Ants can be quite large.
A Carpenter Ant nest may have more than one fertile queen, but even though they’ll co-operate on brood care, they remain somewhat aggressive towards each other, especially if the other queen trespasses on her side of the room.
The brightly coloured and probably noxious fourth instar nymph of a Eucalyptus Tip Wilter. I’ve covered the adults before, which are a large by dull brown insects.
#804 - Fam. Aleyrodidae - Whitefly Pupa
The transparent object at right, with the eyes and cross bar, is the pupa of a whitefly, and similar to the pupa of the Citrus WhiteflyDialeurodes citri, a major pest. You can tell it’s a pupa because the adult eyes are starting to show - nymphs are similar, and similarly fastened to their host leaf, but don’t have obvious eyespots yet. Adults are fully winged and look very different.
Because they can spread plant diseases, the 1550 species of whitefly do hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated damage to crops. Bemisia argentifolii alone is a vector for almost 60 other viral plant diseases
On top of sucking sap from the host plant and injecting viruses, further damage is done by the mold that grows on their honeydew.
Chemical control of whitefly infestations is extensive, but there are alternatives, at least on the small scale. According to Wikipedia:
Washing the plant, especially the undersides of leaves, may help reduce the number of the pests on the plants and make their management by other methods more effective. Whiteflies are also attracted by the color yellow, so yellow sticky paper can serve as traps to monitor infestations.Dead leaves or leaves that have been mostly eaten by whiteflies can be removed and burned or carefully placed in closed bins to avoid reinfestation and spreading of the disease.Early detection in combination with hosing or vacuuming of diseased portions as well as removal of any section that is heavily infested.
(the black object at left is a scale insect that I'll be covering at a later date)
#805 - Fam. Clastopteridae - Large Tube Spittlebug Refuges
Enormous refuges built by certain froghoppers. These are huge compared to the usual white chalky varieties I see around here. I don’t recognise the plant, unfortunately, but given it was only a few blocks from here I should go back and see if they’re still there, and whether I can find the insects responsible.
#806 - Fam. Aradidae - Flat Bugs
A family of very flattened bugs, distantly related to stink bugs, and of little economic import. Only a few have been studied, but they’re thought to feed on fungi and can be attracted with bark beetle pheromones.
In milder climates, Aradids are most often found under bark, as were the half-dozen I found here. In the tropics, they may live in leaf litter, or be found on fallen branches. Tropical species are often apterous.
Adonis Blue Polyommatus (Lysandra) bellargus. A butterfly of the south-facing slopes of chalk downs, whose caterpillars feed solely on Horseshoe Vetch.
The eggs are laid singly on very small foodplants growing in short turf. These conditions provide a very warm microclimate for larval development and are favoured by ants, which tend both larvae and pupae. The green larvae are well camouflaged and are nearly always attended by ants, which are attracted by secretions from special 'honey' glands and pores. Any ant species appears suitable, but the most common are the red ant Myrmica sabuleti and the small black ant Lasius alienus. The ants protect the larvae from predators and parasitoids, and even bury the larvae (in groups of up to eight) in loose earth cells at night.
You think you have problems? Imagine that you have to live with a chicken-sized, blood-sucking parasite attached to your head. This poor Miniopterus bat that we caught during the biodiversity survey of Gorongosa National Park has to endure living with a wingless fly Penicillidia, which never leaves its body and loves to hang out on the top of its head.
The usual Lucilia I see around the place - Lucilia cuprina - is a rich metallic green. This species, whatever it is, isn’t.
My yard,Wellard, Perth
#769 - Fam. Naticidae - Moon Snail Attack
A clear sign that there are Naticids about. Moon Snails (also known as necklace shells) are large round predatory sea snails, common on sandy shorelines, that hunt other molluscs.
After ploughing up the sand to find a prey item, the moon snail envelops the victim prey and then bores a hole through the shell using its radula and acid secretion. The damage to this Pipi is typical - a wide conical “countersunk” borehole with chamfered edges, near the hinge. Once the shell is bored open, the proboscis is used to consume the flesh.
In the breeding season, some species lay a rather stiff egg mass which includes sand and mucus.Washed up on beaches they’re known as “sand collars” because of their resemblance to an old-fashioned removable shirt collar. On the other hand, the moon snails around here lay semi-circular, clear gelatinous sausages known in the parlance as “shark poo”
Woodman Point. Perth
#770 - Octopus tetricus - Gloomy Octopus
AKA Common Sydney Octopus, given the distribution, but it’s found on both ends of the continent. A n impressively muscular octopus with an armspan that reaches over two metres. The body is oval-shaped and the eyes large and white. The arms are long and muscular, the side pairs being the longest and broadest.
I don’t know why this poor individual was on the beach - I suspect she was caught by a fisherman and killed. That said, i HAVE seen octopi crossing the beach before - they leave AMAZING tracks.
Huh - there’s a thing. Turns out I’ve never actually done a TIGTIDAW post about A. analis before. I’m a bit surprised - I know I’ve photographed them before - although, to be far, this is the first time I’ve got actually worthy photos of one.
A. analis can be distinguished from other black and tan local damselflies by the mostly black head - no pale marks behind the eyes - and by the shape of the narrow bands on the thorax.
The species -found across all of Southern Australian, and Tasmania, was first described by French entomolgist Jules Pierre Rambur in 1862, and is usually seen in Spring, Summer, and Autumn near lakes, slow flowing rivers and adjacent vegetation. So what this lady was doing on top of a hill is anybody’s guess. Although, to be fair, it was near Water Corp property. Active at twilight, which is a little unusual for damselflies.
I was trying to sneak up on a small bee when it flew off - and was promptly replaced by a damselfly (Slender Ringtail, Austrolestes analis, female) apparently chowing down on the very same insect. I'm not sure though - her meal is already rather mangled.