Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tiny Black Weevil likes Watermelon

I have seen several of these tiny Weevils in recent weeks, but the other day one came to a large piece of Watermelon I had put out for the Bowerbirds.
During the afternoon, the birds were quiet, and my brother was still working on the back deck, so, naturally the birds waited - out of sight. This cleared the field for the insects to come in. This one is a Straight-snouted Weevil. It is tiny, about 4mm long.I have seen Weevils before, often quite large insects (over an inch long). But they all have the long "nose" (rostrum) with the two antennae coming off the rostrum well down along the length. A distinctive feature of Weevils.

Next there was a Brown Butterfly (sorry, not sure of the species) which had a lovely time bending its proboscis around, sucking up the juice from the little hollows in the Watermelon flesh. The spike on the right of the image is a screw acting as a spike, holding the fruit in place. You can see the fine antennae, with typical Butterfly "clubs" on the end of the antennae (one of the distinctive features of Butterflies - contrasted with moths).Last week I saw a number of wingless insects which were identified for me by Dr. Bronwen Scott ("Snail") as female Soldier Flies Boreoides subulatus .Well they were back again this week, and as I have a new Macro Lens, I thought I would try it out on getting an eye and antennae shot.
This shows clearly the two tiny antennae, and the large compound eyes typical of flies.

In case you are wondering, these insects wander round in April, on hard wooden surfaces (typically fence posts) looking for deep cracks and holes into which they insert their long tails (ovipositors) so they can lay their eggs there. They do not bite or sting, even though they look vaguely dangerous and certainly prehistoric. Bronwen's comment was that this species looks like it was "designed by a Committee". I agree.


Anonymous said...

Hi Denis, Good comment of Bronwen's re the Soldier fly and no wonder you asked for assistance with the ID!

Looking forward to seeing what else you capture with your Macro lens!

Anonymous said...

Great photos Denis! I have never really thought to look closely at a weevil before. The straight-snouted weevil is sort of cute, in a weevily sort of way...! (as long as it's eating an unwanted watermelon)

Mosura said...

That's a neat looking weevil. Hope you left a bit of melon for yourself.

Snail said...

Have fun with the new lens!

There are a lot of small shiny black weevils here, but the darned things run too quickly for a decent shot. I might have to distract them with watermelon!

Tyto Tony said...

Should have loads of fun with the macro lens, Denis. You do know about glueing the little buggers down, don't you? :-)

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Lynds.
As an ex-Canberran, welcome to my Blog for your first comment.
We share many interests, and similar climate and certainly birds. I am getting Yellow-faced Honeyeaters passing through here, just as is happening in Canberra at present.
I really like exploring the tiny insects with a macro lens. Some practice necessary yet.
This little guy was very chirpy, but did not stay long. You can see them "decide" to fly away, though (being Beetles they have to lift the outer shell wings before their flapping wings come into action, so that gives you about half a second notice.
It looks like a miniature Rhinoceros. Cute as...

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Barbara, Bronwen (thanks again for the ID on the Fly), Tony and Allan. This new lens is very nice to operate, so I am also looking forward to using it.
Its great to be able to share interesting things which we often see, but do not always examine closely.

catmint said...

I call them evil weevils - had an infestation once on the grapevine. Spent every summer night hunting and drowning them. Their probosces were not quite as long though I think. Their ability to propagate was alarming - no need for sex, too slow.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Catmint
You wrote: "Their ability to propagate was alarming - no need for sex, too slow."
Did I miss something?
Have they invented a new way of propagating?
I know Aphids go in for parthenogenesis - where females give birth to live female young. Is that what you mean?

Marek Wanat (Poland) said...

Hi Denis,
This tiny "watermelon" weevil belongs to genus Notapion and family Apionidae (this is probably Notapion tenuistriatum, but there are several similar species). It normally lives on wild trees like Doryphora sassafras or Daphnandra spp.

Denis Wilson said...

Many thanks, Marek.
Your information is "spot on" as to the host trees, as my house in Robertson is surrounded by Sassafras trees (Doryphora sassafras).
I will amend my original posting accordingly.
It is vaguely satisfying that at least I was in the right family, which as a non-entomologist is reasonably good guessing, for me.
Many thanks

Anonymous said...

The colouration on the Boreoides girl is strange. Normally they're dark browns and greys. Do you know if she was not long out of her pupa?

Denis Wilson said...

Two comments from me.
A she was looking for somewhere to lay eggs;
B She looks "normal" to me, for this district.
I am not an entomologist, so she might be an unusual colour form.
Donald Hobern has much darker specimens on his site.

Thanks for the comment.