What’s around – mid August

The days are gradually lengthening and warming, although not by much: we are now reaching 27-29C some days instead of 25 a month ago, but nights are still dropping to 12C. There is still very little rain, which means that grass fires have continued around Townsville – and as far South as Rockhampton, too. Up here, grass fires end when the Wet arrives, around November, but South of the Sunshine Coast they are only beginning at that time of year.

Chocolate Soldiers (Junonia hedonia) are still the most common butterfly in our garden, with the Dingy Bush Brown (Mycalesis perseus) runner-up; the Common Crow probably comes third, with occasional Cairns Birdwings, Migrants, Blue-banded Eggfly and Common Eggfly making up the remainder of the field – oh, and a few Hesperiidae, the tribe of smallish butterflies which I wrote about in my previous post.

Moving away from butterflies …

Small spiky spiders (Gasteracantha and Austracantha) are still spreading their webs across every path in the garden, while a few Silver Orb-weavers and St Andrews Cross spiders keep their species going. It’s the same story with wasps and bees: a few representatives of most species (Delta mud-daubers, Polistes paper wasps, a tiny Chalcid, the blue-banded Amegilla, etc) but not many of any of them. Giant grasshoppers, ‘true bugs’ (Hemiptera) and beetles (Coleoptera) are likewise still around but in small numbers.

Flies, however, are going strong, especially hover-flies (Syrphidae). There are around 6000 species of hover-flies worldwide. Many of them mimic wasps or bees but they are all quite harmless and most are nectar and pollen feeders. Larvae (yes, maggots) of some species are useful to us because they eat insect pests such as aphids and thrips, while others recycle decaying plant matter.

Hover-fly on begonia
Hover-fly on begonia

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