Many Peaks Trail – insects and plants

yellow flowering tree
Kapok flowering above Tegoora Rock

As promised, I’m posting photos of wildlife (and a few plants) seen on my recent Town Common walk.

The Kapok tree, Cochlospermum gillivraei, is one of many tropical trees which loses its leaves in the dry season and bursts into flower before the foliage returns.

Our local species is one of four kapoks which occur in northern Australia. It is unrelated to the kapoks of Central America and Africa but, like them, has big seed pods filled with cotton-like fibres.

We have found that both the (native) Batwing Coral Tree and the (exotic but well and truly naturalised) Poinciana flower best when they receive least water though winter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kapok is the same.

red cucumber
Native Bryony, aka Striped Cucumber

This bright red fruit caught my eye on the edge of the rainforest a little further along the trail. It’s a Native Bryony, Striped Cucumber or Marble Vine, depending on who you ask, but a Diplocyclos palmatus whichever common name you use.

It is  native to Australia but its range extends through South-east Asia and at least as far as India. In some areas it is used medicinally but all parts of the plant are mildly poisonous. It’s a creeper and this one is draped across a green-ants’ nest; perhaps that’s why its leaves have died off.

Unidentified dragonfly

There were lots of butterflies and dragonflies on the Common, as always, and I will post the prettiest photos of the day (above, and the last one on the page) and a few of the less often noticed insects.

Camouflaged brown butterfly
Evening Brown

The Evening Brown, Melanitis leda, is one of our most successful leaf-mimics. It is quite a large butterfly and quite common but rarely seen because it spends nearly all its time resting in shady leaf-littery hideaways. This link will take you to my only photo of its upper sides.

Biologists divide butterflies into half a dozen families – Swallowtails (Papilionidae), Skippers (Hesperiidae), Whites and Yellows (Pieridae), Nymphs (Nymphalidae), Metalmarks (Riodinidae) and Blues (Lycaenidae). The Blues are mostly small and pale, and flutter around near their oddly specific host plants; the caterpillars of Candalides hyacinthinus, for instance, feed only on the Dodder vine. I happened to catch three different species on this walk and have reposted a fourth which I saw last time I visited the Common.

red-brown cockroach
Wingless native cockroach

This native cockroach, Cosmozosteria sloanei, was under a small rock on a boulder near the summit of Mt Marlow. I will let the Queensland Museum describe its place in the world:

Australia has more than 400 species of native cockroaches that live in the bush. Most are harmless and some are even attractive. They range from fragile species around 3 mm long to the massive Giant Burrowing Cockroach, Macropanesthia rhinocerous, which can grow to a length of 6.5 cm and weigh as much as 20 grams.
The small number of pest species of cockroaches in Australia are all introduced and have given cockroaches a bad name.

I agree with every word.

My last photo here was also my last photo of the day: I looked up as I passed under a banyan fig overhanging the fence of the maintenance depot at the park entrance, to see this mating pair of Cairns Birdwing butterflies (Ornithoptera euphorion, Papilionidae). The male (bottom) is much older and more battered than the female.

Cairns Birdwing couple, coupling

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