What’s around – mid May 2013

Almost since I began this blog I have been writing a monthly summary of bug life in my garden (although I missed last month because I was away from home) and, having just checked what I wrote last year and the year before, I don’t feel compelled to re-do the whole survey again now since the results would be pretty much the same.

Differences? Our Chocolate Soldiers, Junonia hedonia, have been far less common for the last few months than they were in the same season in previous years; and I have found a few unusual bugs which really don’t belong in a seasonal list but do deserve posts to themselves, so I will write them up soon. Meantime, here’s a selection of creatures I have photographed recently in the garden:

Yellow butterfly
This Lemon Migrant, Catopsilia pomona, thought it was well enough hidden in the plumbago but it wasn’t – quite.
green caterpillar on leaf
An unidentified caterpillar
spiny blackish caterpillar
Mature caterpillar of the Cairns Birdwing butterfly, Ornithoptera priamus euphorion. The red horns are the “osmetrium” which it extrudes to frighten potential predators.

We’ve had a few adult Birdwings around recently and one female has been so successful in laying eggs that our Aristolochia vines (see this older post) are being eaten to the ground by the caterpillars. The first to pupate will be okay but, sadly, I doubt that later hatchlings will survive.

Very hairy brown caterpillar
We have seen quite a lot of these caterpillars recently and suspect they are falling from our poplar gum. Perhaps a Tussock Moth caterpillar.
A large wasp, probably Sceliphron formosum, foraging on macadamia leaves.
Orange cockroach
Adult Bush Cockroach, Ellipsidion humeralis, one of many native species
orange bug on leaf
Juvenile native cockroach, Ellipsidion humeralis

Cockroaches have such a bad reputation that the mere name makes people think the insect must be ugly, dirty and a pest. Not so: Wikipedia does spend most time on the pests but begins by noting that only about four species of 4500 worldwide are problematic. Our Bush Cockroach is no more ugly or dirty than a beetle, and its cousin from Western Queensland is very attractively coloured.

orange grasshopper
Immature Giant Grasshopper, Valanga irregularis, already quite big but still one or two moults away from fully-winged adulthood, on lemongrass
orange and brown butterfly
Australian Rustic, Cupha prosope, on pentas leaf

A beautiful species which doesn’t visit us very often – maybe a couple of times per year.

green spider with pink and white back
Flower spider, Diaea evanida, lurking with intent in a new-formed hibiscus leaf

This little spider pounced from this very retreat a day earlier to capture a tiger cranefly, as seen here.

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