Rain at last!

We’ve had 70 – 100 mm of rain in the last couple of days and are nearly ready to say that the Wet has hit Townsville at last. December only brought us 41 mm and our gardens – to say nothing of Castle Hill and the Common – were getting desperate.

The insects have responded to the moisture immediately. I have seen two flights of winged termites, setting off to find mates and establish new colonies, and a walk around the garden this morning revealed a swarm of native bees as well as a variety of other little wildlife.

small black bee
Stingless native bee, smaller than a house fly

The bees (Tetragonula species) were flying in a loose swarm near a couple of pot plants for most of the day. Dozens were in the air at any one time, with smaller numbers resting (like the one above) for a while and then taking off again.

spider and prey
Silver Orb-weaver with bundled-up native bee

Sitting down in the middle of the swarm, as I did to take the photo, felt a bit weird just because we’re so used to the idea that bees sting and should be avoided. These bees don’t sting – can’t sting, in fact – and I was perfectly safe. They didn’t even bump into me. Some of them did, however, blunder into the web of a Silver Orb-weaver just above them and paid the price.

Elsewhere in the garden I saw a beautiful mantis nymph, translucent against the underside of a sunlit leaf, a pretty little green spider in its daytime retreat on a hibiscus leaf (I had to poke it out with a twig to take photos) and a fat green hawk-moth caterpillar happily chomping through the leaves of my sweet potatoes. Oh, and ants and butterflies and grasshoppers … the whole world comes to life with a good fall of rain. Less happily, that means we are soon going to see lots more mosquitoes.

green caterpillar on leaf stem
Hawk-moth caterpillar
green and white spider on leaf
Patterned orb-weaver, about 7 mm
baby green mantis
Mantis nymph – wings undeveloped
mosquito on arm
A mosquito beating the rush

4 thoughts on “Rain at last!”

    1. Thanks, Jeff.
      Getting photos of tiny insects and spiders is a matter of equipment more than skill, luck or patience – although all three do come in handy!
      I use an entry-level DSLR with a 100 mm macro lens and, for really small subjects, close-up filters.
      An online friend down at Airlie got great macro shots with a Panasonic DMC-FZ50. It has a 10x optical zoom to start with but he extended its capabilities by fitting a philatelic magnifying glass into the frame of an old UV filter to make a +10 close-up filter – see http://www.flickr.com/photos/72842252@N04/ for results from that set-up and his newer DMC-GX7.
      Either way, it’s fascinating to explore the really small life in our gardens.

  1. Those native bees have been swarming again in the last couple of days. They are in the same location but I’m still not sure exactly where their nest might be; the wall cavity, down near ground level, is most likely although they spend most of their time circling a big pot of asparagus fern nearby.
    Incidentally, the swarming has nothing with rain this time, since we haven’t had any at all.

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