Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Backyard "bugs" in Robertson

Please forgive my terribly imprecise use of language. There are some true "bugs", but others are Mantids, Caterpillars and Damselflies. They are all "arthropods" but that is not a user-friendly name - hence I allow myself the imprecise use of the word "bugs".

These photos were taken when I went with David, into Jill's backyard. Jill's yard backs onto Caalang Creek, and there is a lagoon as well, with lots of water plants, rushes and Water Lilies. Of course, with such an environment, there are frogs, and myriad insects and other small creatures. As David said today, this yard is a naturalist's delight, with so many different creatures available to see.

I add that this is true - for those who have eyes to see them. Allow me to show you some of what we found this afternoon.

Firstly, here is an immature Preying Mantis - a medium sized Mantis, but you can see the large flattened scales on its back (just above its rear legs) where its wings will develop, when it matures into a flying insect. Mantids go through what is referred to as incomplete metamorphosis - having a nymph stage (starting from tiny creatures, but still obviously Mantids), then developing wings to become mature flying insects.
Here is another immature insect - a caterpillar of the Orchard Butterfly. From the wonderful website of the Chew family in Brisbane, I can say with confidence this is the second "instar" (moulting stage) of this caterpillar. In its next stage of development it will become the more familiar large green caterpillar which one finds regularly on Citrus plants. Eventually it will form a chrysalis in which the caterpillar pupates to become a mature Orchard Butterfly. That is an example of the Complete Metamorphosis cycle.
This is a blue Damselfly - possibly a "Common Bluetail Damselfly" . The late evening in Robertson was very cold, and this creature was apparently too cold to fly. So it sat on its chosen Agapanthus flower, allowing us to get close. You can see the fine wings, and the wide set "bug eyes" in this photo. The positioning of the eyes is one of the distinctive feature of Damselflies (Dragonflies generally have large eyes, which are usually closely set on the head - almost touching eachother). My photo is not very clear. Hopefully David will publish a much better shot which he took - front on - showing the "bug eye" appearance of this insect.

DJW note: David has published his photo - here.
Just to complete the set of insects, with a true bug, here is a photo of a Stink Bug. In fact it is one of a pair of Stink Bugs, which were mating. But they were difficult to get a good angle to photograph successfully. So I shall settle for the front-on shot. It is a Bronze "Orange Bug" which, as its name implies, is a major pest of Citrus crops, especially Oranges. As sap-suckers these insects cause the young tips of the new growth to droop - killing that growth point on the plant. The stem above (to the right of this bug) can be seen to have gone flat, and dark, as a result of this sap sucking.Hopefully I will publish more (better?) photos tomorrow.


Gaye from the Hunter said...

A fascinating and beautiful collection of backyard insects, Denis, together with excellent information. I must have a thorough search of my yard to see what little creatures I can come up with.


David said...

Nice work Denis.
I enjoyed that afternoon shoot.
We will have to do another one soon.