Insects in my new Townsville garden

Each garden attracts some different insects and spiders from its neighbours because of the different food plants and micro-habitats it offers. The difference between our old garden and our new one is most apparent in the butterflies, since their caterpillars often eat only one or two species of plant.

Here we haven’t (yet) got any Plumbago, so we have no Plumbago Blue butterflies; but we do have Cycads.

cycad blue butterfly
Cycad Blue on the rib of a caterpillar-chewed cycad frond

We also have Common Crow, Grass Yellow, Chocolate Soldier, and Migrant butterflies (I’m not yet sure which one), but no Cairns Birdwing (no Aristolochia vines yet).

A neglected and water-stressed garden, as ours was,  has more than its fair share of pests – scale insects and the like – which in turn attract predators. Flatid planthoppers like this one are sap-suckers.

Planthopper
Planthopper
black ladybird
Yellow-shouldered Ladybird

The Yellow-shouldered Ladybird, Apolinus lividigaster, is an aphid predator. Brisbane Insects notes that they don’t seem interested in scale insects, but other ladybirds certainly are (mealybugs, too) so ladybirds are gardeners’ friends.

Bees and wasps

bougainvillea after leafcutter bee attacks
Bougainvillea leaves showing the distinctive damage inflicted by leafcutter bees

I have yet to see a Leafcutter Bee in the garden but I know they visit: the neat lunettes they snip from soft foliage for their nests are unmistakeable.

paper wasp nest
Paper wasp nest on unhappy Happy Plant

These paper wasps, Ropalidia revolutionalis, have taken advantage of a ragged gap in a Happy Plant leaf to build a nest with 360 degree views. A grasshopper probably did the damage to the leaf; I have seen Giant Grasshoppers as well as smaller ones.

Flies

robber fly
A Robber-fly with its tiny prey

Robber-flies (Asilidae) are aerial predators like dragonflies but they are true flies, with two wings rather than four, so they are not at all closely related.

Flies, in fact, are far more varied, attractive and interesting (and far less harmful) than most of us give them credit for. This album of my fly photos on flickr contains 220+ images of perhaps 150 species, still only a tiny fraction of the 19 000+ species in Australasia.

And the insects I have illustrated on this page are an even smaller fraction of what lives in our garden. I look forward to meeting others.

Afterword: More photos from the garden

I have just (27.5.19) set up an album on my flickr account for all my photos of the insects and spiders in this garden. There are already twenty photos in it, including all the photos in this blog post, and it will grow as time goes by.  This link will take you to it.

 

 

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