What’s around – mid May 2012

Caper Gull butterfly
Caper Gull, aka Australian Gull, Cepora perimale

There’s a reason we talk about the Dry season: in the last six weeks we have had one day with 16mm of rain, two days with less than 1mm, and 40 days with none at all. Temperatures have routinely been  16 – 20 overnight and 30 during the day in mid-April dropping very slightly to 28-29 now. We tend to exclaim ‘What gorgeous weather!’ fairly often.

Birds are drifting into town (where people at least water their gardens) because the countryside is drying out but no amount of watering quite compensates the insects for the lower temperatures and the lack of rain.

  • Spiders are doing best. This season seems to be orb-weaver heaven – Austracantha, Silver Orb Weaver and (especially) St Andrew’s Cross are doing very well. I discovered Argiope picta six months ago and now that I am aware of it I am seeing it reasonably often.
  • Butterflies: Cairns Birdwing are courting, while Ulysses and Orchard Swallowtail pass through the garden regularly; and there are lots of Eurema and quite a lot of Junonia hedonia, a few Clearwing Swallowtail, Common Crow, Common Eggfly, Lemon Migrant, Hesperidae and Caper Gull (aka Australian Gull), Cepora perimale.
  • Moths: a lot of small moths flitting around the grass during the day and attracted to house lights at night, but nothing bigger.
  • Wasps: the colourful little parasitic wasps, Braconid and Ichneumonid species, have returned in small numbers after being almost entirely absent for months, and I have recently seen a couple of new small paper wasp nests after a similar absence. We’re still seeing some mud-daubers (Delta arcuata), too.
  • Bees: Resin bees and some blue-bum Amegilla species. I posted about Carpenter Bees recently but haven’t seen them since then.
  • Flies: yes, mostly the tiny green long-legged Dolichopodidae, plus a fair few hoverflies, lots of bluebottles and some crane flies.
  • ‘True bugs’ (Hemiptera): hardly any.
  • Grasshoppers: a few Giant Grasshoppers, adults and sub-adults, but no very small nymphs.
  • Cockroaches, slaters and termites: lots in the compost bin and underground respectively, as always.
  • Beetles: none to speak of.
  • Others: A few ant-lion pits have appeared in the now-dusty soil under the mango tree, and I have seen some tiny mantis nymphs, but that’s about all.

Similar surveys a month ago and a year ago.