How special are we?

Most of us automatically make a huge distinction between people – ‘us’ – and animals – ‘them’ – but is that really justifiable? When we look at the question instead of taking the answer for granted, the gap shrinks dramatically.

First, we are compelled to realise that we are animals, big monkeys in fact, so the distinction is between ‘people’ and ‘other animals’. That step may seem small now but it split England right down the middle 150 years ago Continue reading “How special are we?”

Caper Gull

It must be about time for another butterfly … here’s a species that I had never seen in my garden until a few days ago.

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

We do occasionally get butterflies that have been blown out of their usual territory and they are often rather tired and battered. This one turned up late one afternoon and all it wanted to do was sleep in the shadows under our native wisteria vine.
That posed a problem for the photographer, of course. Flash was essential. The solid black background is the consequence, as it usually is in such a situation; it’s not unattractive but I wouldn’t like to do it all the time because it shows nothing of the insect’s habitat.
I do have one shot of the Caper Gull on its home ground, on top of Mt Stuart, but its background happens to be nearly as uninformative – see?

Tiny mantis

Brown mantis nymph
Brown mantis nymph

At first glance I thought this was an ant – it was about the right size, at about 8-10mm long, and colour – but no, it’s a baby praying mantis. I don’t know how big it will grow, but I do know it is very young because mantises, like grasshoppers, begin life wingless and develop wings after successive moults.

Most of us familiar with a green mantis which grows to about finger length, but there are lots of others. Here is a differently-shaped green one and here is a very large brown one. Wikipedia has a good article about the family.

House spider

House spider
House spider - prettier close up than at a distance?

Peaceful, neglected, shadowy corners of the house gradually fill up with these greyish house spiders, hanging beneath their webs and looking after their sea-star-shaped egg sacs. The species is Zosis geniculatus or a close relative, I was informed by a more-expert contributor to Flickr’s Australian Spiders group.

In my high-set Queenslander house, they love the spaces between the floor joists, and a glassed-in porch that leads to a door we don’t use. From time to time we decide there are too many dusty webs and take action but, really, they are no trouble to anyone … except their tiny prey, of course.

House spider from above
House spider from above the web