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

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Unlikely friends: ants and butterflies

Hypolycaena phorbas male
Black-spotted Flash (male) perched on a green-ants’ nest

Walking back down the hill for Tegoora Rock lookout (previous post) I spotted a green-ant nest with – surprisingly – a butterfly perched on it. Living dangerously, surely? Perhaps not.

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Sleepy midwinter butterflies

sleeping butterfly
Common Albatross, sleeping

The short days and cool weather of our winter don’t stop our butterflies completely but do slow them down. Numbers drop off, and their hours of activity shrink.  As I noted years ago, most of them find quiet spots by about 3.30 each afternoon where they can rest safely until the temperature climbs again on the following morning. The one in my photo is doing just that, but I only spotted it because I saw it land.

Do butterflies really sleep?

As this site says, it “depends on your definition of sleep. If you want to define sleep as an inactive, low metabolic state: yes.  This low metabolic state is often driven by the temperature in the air.” Butterflies are ectothermic (“cold-blooded”, except that they don’t really have blood) so they need external warmth for their activity.

An extension of their overnight “sleep” is the over-winter hibernation which carries adults of some species through a long period of low temperatures and limited food supplies, even here in the tropics.

Do butterflies dream?

Probably not – but how could we know?

Butterflies of Hervey’s Range

Winter may here, as I said in my last post, but the butterflies haven’t yet felt its full force. There are still plenty of flowers for the adults and greenery for the caterpillars, even on Hervey’s Range in Townsville’s cooler, drier hinterland.

These photos were taken on three successive visits between mid-April and mid-May and for this post I have simply sorted them by size: the female Varied Eggfly has a wingspan of about 85 mm, while the blues are in the 20 – 30 mm range.

Clicking on the images to see them in a lightbox will reveal extended captions including their Latin names.

Varied Eggfly
Female Varied Eggfly on snakeweed

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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 Continue reading “Walking in the Paluma rainforest”