Walking in the Paluma rainforest

Paluma Dam track
The walking track

A recent trip to Paluma Dam with the good people of Wildlife Queensland was enjoyable for the wildlife and just being in the rainforest but was far from strenuous. We walked across the dam wall and along a vehicular track to the west of the dam, took a side track to down to the dam shore, and returned the same way before lunching at the camping ground. Birds were constantly audible but frustratingly invisible, so most of my photos are of invertebrates.

Paluma Dam forest
Looking into the forest below the dam wall
Paluma Dam
Looking across Paluma Dam

These two butterfly species were the commonest on the day but are unfamiliar around Townsville. Braby notes that both are ‘common but local’ in their territory, the Wet Tropics. The upper wing surfaces of the Grey Albatross are white and pale grey with darker wingtips, so both shone out brightly in the shadows of the forest.

‘Puddling’ is the proper term for butterflies’ habit of landing on wet sand (as here) or beside shallow puddles (as here) to suck up some water.

These two spiders were both found in the camping ground, one on our picnic table and the other on the brim of a hat. The brown one is certainly Tetragnatha sp. but even the new Field Guide to Spiders of Australia calls it ‘unidentified’.  The green one? I suspect it may be a Mesida, in which case it belongs to the same family, but I’m not at all sure.

A miscellany.

Robber flies are aerial predators like dragonflies – note the huge flight muscles – but are ‘real’ flies unlike dragonflies or butterflies.

The hopper, a sap-sucker (Hemiptera) only about 5mm long, looks like it’s standing on something coarse and wiry but that’s only because of the magnification. In real life, the leaves are beautifully velvety.

leaves at Paluma Dam
Soft new foliage – gorgeous!

Ringlets on grassy hillsides

Brown Ringlet
Brown Ringlet at Paluma Dam

Ringlets (Hypocysta spp.) are smallish, brownish butterflies showing attractive flashes of orange in flight but camouflaged at rest unless they spread their wings to bask. Their wingspan is about 30mm, very much the same size as the common Grass-yellows (Eurema spp.) but noticeably smaller than Migrants, Crows and Tigers and larger than the Blues.

All six Australian species are found on the East coast and we have three of them in the Townsville region, the Orange, Northern and Brown Ringlets (H. adiante, H. irius and H. metirius) although the last of these is not common close to Townsville. In fact, we rarely see any of them except on the rocky grassy slopes of Castle Hill, Mt Stuart and the Many Peaks Range. Why not? Continue reading “Ringlets on grassy hillsides”

Bookshelf entomology 2

This is little more than a footnote to my January 2016 post about the insect life to be found in bookshelves in the tropics: I noticed a can of insect spray tucked discreetly in the corner of a bookshelf and moved it to reveal …

The nest-builder is one of our common mud-dauber wasps (potter wasps), probably a Sceliphron like this one.

The ant that wasn’t

ant-mimicking jumping spider
Crawling on the edge of an outdoor table

Sitting in the back garden yesterday, I glanced down to see an ant wandering along the edge of my table – or so I thought. But it wasn’t moving like an ant: they are purposeful, even if we may not divine their purposes, and this maybe-not-an-ant was wandering rather slowly and aimlessly. At a closer look, its antennae weren’t very convincing, either Continue reading “The ant that wasn’t”

Birdwing emergence

When they are ready to pupate, Cairns Birdwing caterpillars drop off the Aristolochia vine they had been eating and climb a neighbouring plant. There they find an appropriate twig or leaf, reinforce it with some of their silk, make a sling with more silk, and hang there in their new hard brown skin (which is what the chrysalis is) while they miraculously re-organise inside it (see this blog post for more details). When the time comes …

cairns birdwing butterfly
Just out – wings still damp and collapsed

Continue reading “Birdwing emergence”