24 de janeiro de 2021

Tail Waving Damsels

I had circumnavigated the lagoon and photographed every species I found so now what? Still having time on my hands I decided to try and photograph a charismatic little damselfly performing its characteristic tail-waving. Having capable photographic equipment I thought I would use the opportunity presenting itself — the temperature wasn't too hot to be out in the sun but still warm enough for these insects to be active.

It had been documented that the Ancient Greenling Hemiphlebia mirabilis damselfly waves it tail about at times. Originally thought to only be male territorial signalling behavior I found that both sexes perform this display equally.

They usually wave their tails about immediately after landing or when another perches nearby; most of the rest of their time they spend sitting quite still and may only move to catch a passing meal. So to get them doing their dance I walked back and forth along the edge of the swamp and flung my camera in their direction whenever one I disturbed landed again (like most damselflies they don't fly far). It isn't easy to catch this action as they may only do it two or three times and each wave only lasts around a second. Even though my camera focuses fairly quickly on something near its last focus distance it was still not easy to capture this, but using continuous shooting I managed to get some reasonable images. Ideally I would have had the camera level with the little beasts but as they prefer to perch on emergent swamp vegetation below half a metre tall my photos were angled somewhat from above.

Until 2013 coupling had not even been observed (oviposition is unknown to this day) but the male pounces on the wings of the female and holds them closed (so she can't fly), walks up the wings [image 1 and image 2] before curling his abdomen undernath his body and normal damselfly mating follows. The males don't seem to be too exact about selecting a potential mate and I have photographed one on a male Austrolestes leda and even two on the same male Ischnura aurora! As a result of this indiscriminate behavior I think both sexes have evolved the tail curling as it could dislodge an unwanted attachment. [This is my opinion based on many observations however traditionally it is still believed they are waving at each other, which I guess they are sort of doing and saying "don't land here, Mr".]

Observations 67188374, 67188376 and 67188377 illustrate the tail curling behavior that I captured in the late morning on 25th December, 2020. The second of these shows the full sequence of the tail-flick in chronological order.

Publicado em 24 de janeiro de 2021, 11:17 AM por reiner reiner | 1 comentário | Deixar um comentário

04 de outubro de 2020

A Numerical Milestone

When I first started using iNaturalist I had already accumulated about 15,000 observation records via other systems, but over 16 years. On iNaturalist however inspirational people like @finatic, who was leading the way with over 50,000 records, motivating comparisons like in this blog post about how many finatics other people were (as a ratio/fraction). In Australia I think @vicfazio3 had most observations and I remember globetrotters @sea-kangaroo and @silversea_starsong having many observations and identifications too. However at the time I thought I'd never become one finatic.

Changing circumstances however meant I started travelling more and I began photographing stuff almost every day. Previously I would be very targeted - I'd spend half a day chasing dragonflies and photographing nothing else. I now started photographing everything I could vaguely identify or that was interesting. Although typically I only make one observation of a species on a trip/walk (as I still do) - maybe sometimes I will make a few extra observations on longer trips. This meant I started accumulating records and once I was mentally programmed to photographing things in passing it was easy to average 100 observations per day.

For a few months since travel restrictions were imposed I didn't think I'd make 100,000 records by now but I still have some older images not submitted anywhere. I don't want to duplicate records so this is complicated by be submitting some records to other systems that reached Australia's national aggregator ALA (that includes many sources including museum specimens). When I'm away from home I take photos all day and evening until I go to bed (there isn't anything else to do). What I've also been doing this spring is spotlighting in my garden like I do when I'm out in the bush - its amazing how much minuscule life is out there (I don't live in a very urban area).

Of course 100,000 is an insignificant number of itself, it just looks aesthetic with out base-10 numbering system but it doesn't really mean much more than 99,000. However the next such aesthetic milestone of one million records is not within reach of me in my lifetime even if I continue to submit 30,000 records per year so at least I will save myself another blog post. :)

Thanks to all the great people who have lead the way and continue to help me and others understand what is around. I will mention a few people off the top of my head now but I hope everyone else isn't offended if I left them out. Identifying machines like @johnascher, who corrects all my many bee misidentifications (and of course globally). @borisb for all his beetle input, even reading up old literature to work out poorly known species from the other side of the world. Similarly @tony_d for his work on Australian flies and @matthew_connors has done a lot of researching numerous invertebrate groups. Also thanks to @wongun for bug assistance and @susanna_h for wasps.

My biggest problem is I know enough to know how little I know. 😀 See you all around online.

Publicado em 04 de outubro de 2020, 02:16 AM por reiner reiner | 7 comentários | Deixar um comentário

19 de junho de 2020

The Third Tree

More discoveries of Auriscalpium sp. 'Blackwood'
This article first appeared in Field Nats News No. 309 (July 2020), newsletter of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria Inc.

Normally, at this time of year the FNCV Fungi Group would be out on frequent forays, including to Blackwood (west of Melbourne) where they discovered the rare Stemless Earpick Fungus (Auriscalpium sp. 'Blackwood') in 2005. In most years since, the fungi has appeared again, but were only ever observed on the same tree trunk, a Narrow-leaved Peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata), 'the first tree'. I have attended several forays there in the last 10 years, but unfortunately these elusive fungi were not present on each of these occasions. Many autumns being quite dry, they eventually appeared later in the season (after the forays) in some of these years.

Blackwood, being about as far on the other side of the city as my home is to the east, I have spent more time in local areas instead. I thought the forests around Silvan and Gembrook could be suitable but never had any success until last year when I stumbled across a good colony in Olinda, 'the second tree'. Some FNCV members formally searched several hundred nearby trees over two days without further success.

Being brown and small, typically around 10mm across, (but I've measured them up to 25mm, see observation 48624044), they aren’t easily seen unless you are within a few metres and on the right side of the tree They mostly grow on the shady side. Additionally, they don’t appear for very long if rains aren’t reasonably continuous, drying to nothing within a couple of weeks. The bark on which they grow seems to need to be spongy and wet.

Sporing body on 8th April, 2020 (left) and same 15th April (right)

When searching there are problems of being deceived by other fungi that look similar at first glance. Pseudohydnum gelatinosum is fairly common on trunks of Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) where it develops grey-topped, gelatinous sporing bodies to around 5cm. However in Kurth Kiln Regional Park there are some on Eucalyptus radiata that forms smaller structures with a browner top (but the spines are still white).

Small Resupinatus can also be misleading when sighted from a distance. Resupinatus cinerascens (usually larger), Resupinatus subapplicatus and Resupinatus aff. merulioides can form similar colonies on gum tree trunks, but they are easy to distinguish from Auriscalpium when inspecting the under-side.

Pseudohydnum gelatinosum at Kurth Kiln

Resupinatus aff. merulioides from above

Resupinatus aff. merulioides from underneath

Another site regularly visited for FNCV fungi forays is Mortimer Nature Trail in Bunyip State Park near Gembrook. I believe that was where I went on my first foray with the group. Interestingly it was here where, on a tree immediately beside the track, I found the third known colony of Auriscalpium sp. ‘Blackwood’ on 5th May this year 2020, ‘the third tree’. Admittedly it wasn’t in the wet gully where most of the foray time is spent but it is still an area frequented by fungi enthusiasts. It has also been found in Kurth Kiln Regional Park this season.

My understanding is that the description is close to being published, so these Auriscalpium may soon have a formal specific epitaph (species name). In Australia it seems to help being given a conservation status, if a species has been named and properly described. It is unfortunate that it has taken fifteen years. It is only in the past two years that more than one colony was known. Before that it would easily have qualified as Critically Endangered, the highest ranking before being considered extinct.
Publicado em 19 de junho de 2020, 09:05 AM por reiner reiner | 3 comentários | Deixar um comentário

09 de maio de 2020

I Am Biased & An Aberration

Statistical problems with my observations

Until the government imposed lock-downs this year I travelled north during winter to escape the cold weather. As I make a lot of observations compared to others, some interesting things start to become apparent. One such artifact is seasonality records for the Scarlet Percher dragonfly Diplacodes haematodes show a bulge during August and September. This is a fairly common species in New South Wales and Queensland and, with mature males being bright red and perching beside water habitat, also readily photographed. Until this past summer nearly half of the records were from me and the chart pictured here was even more distorted. Anybody looking at that would think there is a strange peak emergence at the end of winter but actually its just a freak emerging from the south. As more users come on board this curve will gradually be flattened but highlights the problem of me. 😊

I am somewhat of a pariah - I'm not doing what everybody else is doing and I'm doing a lot of it. This includes local observations too. For example, a common mushroom here is the attractive, bright blue Pixie's Parasol Mycena interrupta but over 90% of the records on iNaturalist are mine.

But other biases are less apparent. I am more inclined to photograph something I know and ignore stuff I expect won't be identified. Historically I've been ignoring small herbs and bryophytes as unidentifiable and therefore not worth recording. For example, so far this year I have recorded the common moss Cyathophorum bulbosum 20 times, which represents over half the observations here. Its not like it suddenly appeared, I've just not been able to recognize it previously and thought I wouldn't be able to have it identified anyway. Another example is Indian Weed or Eastern St Paul's-Wort Sigesbeckia orientalis: half the Australian records are from me and half of those are from this year.

So by being one of the more active observers I am introducing statistical biases. I hope you don't mind. 😎

Publicado em 09 de maio de 2020, 11:41 PM por reiner reiner | 4 comentários | Deixar um comentário

21 de fevereiro de 2020

My Try for a Big Day

Today is the 21st of February and after a few days of showers and distractions I decided to go out to Healesville today (Badger Weir to be precise). I thought there might be a bit of fungus out and the open picnic area there is also good for insects when the sun comes out.

The first stop was Silvan, the forest behind the reservoir park. This is normally a good place for fungi too but today it was quite lean. However once I got out into the open I started to see numerous roosting insects in the long grass receiving an unwanted morning shower from the occasional drizzle. I was glad I was wearing my gumboots as the grass was quite wet and was amazed when I ended up with 140 photos for the area. Once I started getting a bit of stuff I thought I'd really go for it for the rest of the day and get as much as I could.

Up the road I visited the bushland in Seville. There isn't much here but there is always stuff hanging around in the long grass along the creek - once again I took over 100 photos.

I finally made it to Badger Weir at lunch time and found numerous perched insects before heading off along the forest tracks. All up I took over 750 photos, which is somewhat of a record for me. I suspect this will give me a personal record for number of observations in a day (well over 200 observations).

My observations will be available via this link as I upload them.

Publicado em 21 de fevereiro de 2020, 09:10 AM por reiner reiner | 4 comentários | Deixar um comentário

28 de setembro de 2019

My Dragonfly Book

Several years ago I was considering writing a book on Victoria's dragonflies and damselflies, having seen and photographed nearly every species in the state. As I started collating some photos I realized many were not of publishable quality. For example, in latter years I wasn't bothering trying to photograph the very common Blue Skimmer Orthetrum caledonicum very well as I already had many photos but it turned out they were not really of very good quality. So having a reasonable camera by then I went out and ensured I got decent photos of all species I needed. During the past couple of seasons I also managed to finally find Nighthawk Apocordulia macrops, the last extant species within the state I had not seen.

Initially I was going to cover south-eastern Australia but I was missing too many species from New South Wales so decided to restrict it to Victoria. Having recently visited Tasmania in February I also recorded 4 of their 5 endemic species so the book could almost be expanded to cover that state too, and indeed a followup visit in November I got the final Tasmanian endemic. So that's why the book became the "Dragonflies and Damselflies of Victoria and Tasmania".

At this stage I was putting things together and had images with nice margins just most other field guides. I then realized things look better without margins so had to go through and re-edit all the photos to fit the full page. It also turned out that since Southwestern Billabongfly Austroagrion cyane had been found in Victoria there were no species in South Australia that weren't also in Victoria, so the book can also be used as a complete guide for SA (but no distribution maps or flight times are provided).

So after about 250–300 hours of editing time (including separation into damsels and dragons and then recombining) a book was born. It is available from the Entomological Society of Victoria (launched at the October 15 meeting). Cost is $30 (plus $5 postage within Australia or $20 to America or Europe).

» download sample...

Publicado em 28 de setembro de 2019, 10:36 AM por reiner reiner | 16 comentários | Deixar um comentário

19 de junho de 2019

Wasp Observations in Northern Victoria

This article first appeared in the Victorian Entomologist for June 2019. See the Entomological Society of Victoria

Ichneumonid Lissopimpla excelsa at Miepoll.

At some locations there is tall grass in which numerous insects will roost, like wasps. They certainly sleep in other spots too but they are quite easy to spot against the pale grass. There were common species, like the Orchid Dupe or Dusky-winged Ichneumonid Lissopimpla excelsa. Males of this species are attracted to Cryptostylis that emit the same pheromones as the female wasps and pollination occurs by pseudocopulation. There are many other species in the Ichneumonidae family with males and females usually not appearing significantly different (apart from an often long ovipositor in some of these species) but on these trips only a few species were seen.

Many female insects have a long ovipositor at the end of their bodies which is used to lay their eggs into something (such as larvae or pupae in the case of wasps). Some wasps are capable of inflicting a painful sting in us humans – these are usually species that hunt living creatures that must be disabled quickly. It is worth remembering only female wasps can sting as this is with a modified ovipositor. What they catch is actually food for their larva as the adult wasps in most species feed on flowers, which is where they are most often observed during the day (but photographing them there while busy feeding is more challenging).

Pompilidae Ferreola handschini at Miepoll.

A well known wasp family are the Spider Wasps (Pompilidae). Some of these get quite large (ones that prey on huntsman spiders) and many sport some orange coloration as a warning to potential predators to indicate they can have a nasty sting (I know, I accidentally stood on one during these trips). A fairly commonly encountered species was Ferreola handschini, which is mostly black with unusual orange “shoulders” (so is at least relatively easy to identify).

Wasps in the family Crabronidae hunt other insects, including catching flies in flight, so they are often very swift and agile flyers, and are also similarly hasty when feeding at flowers. They can feature vivid yellow eyes and among the more well known are the Bembix sand wasps, a genus with about 90 species in Australia. These dig nesting chambers in sand, when it is often easiest to photograph them. The second sand wasp pictured was a lot smaller.

Crabronidae (Bembicinae subfamily) Bembix sp. left and unknown species right, both at Burramine within metres

Probably the family containing the most familiar wasps (including the invasive European Wasp) is Vespidae, which includes Potter Wasp (Eumeninae) and Paper Wasp (Polistinae) subfamilies (among others). Below is a photo of Delta bicinctum, a not uncommon potter wasp but I have never seen a pair together. These were photographed in the morning where they had roosted in the grass overnight but they were already starting to get fidgety with my big black camera pointing at them.

Vespidae: Eumeninae Delta bicinctum pair still at their overnight roost at Peechelba East

Smaller but with a similar waist (petiole) to Delta, the attractive black and yellow Deuterodiscoelius species is not one I’ve seen before and one that hasn’t been photographed much. It too was in the morning before it had warmed up sufficiently. Also pictured are two similar black potter wasps with differing amounts of orange at the end of the abdomen.

Vespidae: Eumeninae Deuterodiscoelius sp. at Eldorado

Two similar Vespidae in the Eumeninae subfamily at Burramine

Paper wasps (Polistinae) build honeycomb nests hanging from vegetation, rock overhangs and artificial structures. Polistes humilis is widespread and common in south-eastern Australia (including Melbourne) but inland I also found Polistes erythrinus, which is dark brown and significantly larger.

Vespidae: Polistinae Polistes erythrinus at Burramine

The family Sphecidae goes by several common names including Thread-waisted Wasps. This includes the Slender Mud-daubers of which two species are relatively abundant in Victoria. Sceliphron laetum is generally more yellow than Sceliphron formosum (especially the antennae) and they have different patterns on their back. See http://museum.wa.gov.au/research/collections/terrestrial-zoology/entomology-insect-collection/entomology-factsheets/sceliphron

Sphecidae Sceliphron laetum at Burramine (left) and Sceliphron formosum at Peechelba East (right)

Another family are Thynnid Wasps (Thynnidae) where the females are wingless as they spend most of their time burrowing underground looking for insect larvae to host their offspring. The sting of these is said to be quite painful. Probably the most well known is the so called Blue Ant Diamma bicolorbut there are many more species. Many males in this family are tricked into mating with orchids that emit the same pheromone as the female wasp. Members show significant sexual dimorphism, the female is usually significantly smaller than the male as for many he takes her to the flowers for feeding. One in this family that I thought I saw quite often was a black one with yellow mouth parts however when I started to collate some images for this article I realised there were at least two species. One has dark legs and black shaded wings while the other has red legs and reddish wings. Before I noticed this I usually just photographed the first one at a site and therefore may have missed the other species (so I now pay more attention). Thynnid Wasps used to be classified as a subfamily under Flower Wasps (Tiphiidae).

Thynnid Wasps with black legs (left) and red legs (right), both at Peechelba East

mating pairs of Thynnid Wasps showing typical sexual dimorphism, both at Burramine

Both sexes in at least most Flower Wasps are winged, as are those of the similar family Scoliidae. Particularly inland I have regularly encountered the 15mm long males (excluding antennae)of the Yellow Flower Wasp Radumeris tasmaniensis but less commonly the quite large female. Both of them appear amazingly hairy. Males are also tricked into mating by the deceptive Calochilus campestris beard-orchid.

Thynnidae Radumeris tasmaniensis male left and female right, both at Burramine

So many different wasps (Australia has thousands of species), although I only saw perhaps a few dozen so one wonders where all the others are hiding. But this number also makes them difficult to identify. I am only able to get to family with most of them and I don’t know if there is a specialist that can help more. A lot probably look very similar and may require concealed microscopic features.

For all the observations I records during these three trips have a look at the following iNaturalist project I created for them:

Publicado em 19 de junho de 2019, 02:44 AM por reiner reiner | 1 comentário | Deixar um comentário

18 de junho de 2019

Dragonfly Observations in Northern Victoria

This article first appeared in the Victorian Entomologist for April 2019. See the Entomological Society of Victoria

This summer I had the opportunity to make several trips inland and spent time exploring the lower Ovens River (north from Wangaratta) and the Murray River (mostly a little downstream from Yarrawonga). Part of the reason was to try and get photographs of some inland dragonfly species that I hadn’t seen very often. Time was spent during the day to observe insects sunning themselves or waiting at breeding sites and also spotlighting at night for roosting ones. Early in the morning is also a good time to observe insects still roosting (before it gets warm enough for them) but on many of the days it became quite hot so the insects were active earlier.

The first visit to the area this season was actually an aborted trip through the alps after my camera played up. I camped near Wangaratta and while spotlighting I saw a Nighthawk dragonfly Apocordulia macrops*. Despite searching previously at known sites (as well as this location) this is the first time I had seen the species. Mine are now probably the only “natural” photos of them as previous ones are museum specimens or individuals reared from larva collected during water sampling. With a new camera and suitable weather I decided to return a few days later and this time saw two males roosting on the first night.

Nighthawk dragonfly Apocordulia macrops males.

During this trip I also visited a site along Reedy Creek below Woolshed Falls, Beechworth, where a few years ago I had seen some less common dragonflies. I again saw a few species including my first ever female Unicorn Hunter Austrogomphus cornutus*.

Unicorn Hunter Austrogomphus cornutus female left, male right

Two other species of interest were Royal Tigertail Parasynthemis regina and Stout Vicetail Hemigomphus heteroclytus. The latter is difficult to distinguish from Southern Vicetail Hemigomphus gouldii, which is much more common in Victoria. The only way I can tell is by getting a good view of the male’s appendages and refer to the key.

Royal Tigertail Parasynthemis regina female left, male right

Stout Vicetail Hemigomphus heteroclytus male, with a close-up of the tail

After returning home and looking on the map I noticed the reserve extends almost all the way to Eldorado, with numerous potential access points and camp sites, so something to visit on the next trip. When I returned I saw some female Hemigomphus gouldii (but still haven’t got good photos of them) as well as numerous more Austrogomphus cornutus.

Along the Ovens River north of Wangaratta I encountered a few of the Inland Hunter Austrogomphus australis. At one site there were two and I didn't realise at the time that one was a female – I was amazed at how adept it was catching a couple of Pygmy Grasshoppers (Tetrigidae) from her perch as they jumped past. It was only until processing the photos that I noticed it was a female – males at breeding sites are generally not that interested in prey.

Inland Hunter Austrogomphus australis female left, male right

On the final day along the Murray River I also finally managed to get some good photos of a mature female Gold-fronted Riverdamsel Pseudagrion aureofrons*, a species not very common in Victoria south of this river.

Gold-fronted Riverdamsel Pseudagrion aureofrons male top, female bottom-left, mating pair bottom-right

I did see a Twinspot Hunter Austroepigomphus praeruptus at Miepoll again (where the first modern recordings in Victoria were made), and also at a new location at Wahring a short distance away, but only males and no good photos.

For all the observations I recorded during these trips have a look at the following iNaturalist project I created for them:

  • Some of the photos of Odonata taken on these trips will appear in my upcoming book to be published by the Society soon (currently in limbo with them).

Publicado em 18 de junho de 2019, 05:21 AM por reiner reiner | 1 comentário | Deixar um comentário

26 de março de 2019

Micraspis flavovittata Lady Beetle Discoveries

This article first appeared in the Field Nats News No. 295, Newsletter of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria Inc (FNCV), with modifications for iNaturalist and webification.

Lady beetles are scientifically classified in the Coccinellidae family of the insect order Coleoptera (beetles). Although there are many cryptic and tiny species, we are all familiar with the colorful beetles of around 5mm in length occasionally sighted clambering around in our gardens. The easily recognizable species usually belong to the subfamily Coccinellinae but there are look-alikes in different families altogether, particularly within leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae) — visual mimicry is not uncommon in beetles. Lady beetles can best be distinguished from others by having relatively short antennae.

According to the 1,708 Coccinellidae records for Victoria currently available on the Atlas of Living Australia the most abundant lady beetle species in our state is Harmonia conformis, which goes by various common names including “large spotted ladybird”. This native is a predatory species feeding on such things aphids and other plant pests so is very beneficial to have around. It has text-book orange base coloration with relatively uniformly sized black spots.

However not all lady beetles are predatory. Another of the most common species in Victoria is Illeis galbula. It is smaller than Harmonia conformis and distinctively yellow and black. As its common name of “fungus-eating ladybird” suggests, it feeds on mould sometimes found on plants and often found crawling in our vegetable patches on cucumber and pumpkin leaves.

One lady beetle very few people have encountered is Micraspis flavovittata (it currently doesn’t have a common name). Before this decade it had only been recorded four times until it was “rediscovered” in 2014 in Discovery Bay Coastal Park (south-western Victoria). The FNCV had an excursion to the area in December 2018, which included a successful search for the species there. Its common sibling species is Micraspis frenata (striped ladybird), to which Micraspis flavovittata is most similar to in appearance and size.

Several Micraspis species feed predominantly on pollen so are often found on flowers. Initial modern observations of Micraspis flavovittata were on and around large water-ribbons (Cycnogeton sp.) that were in flower and producing large quantities of pollen, so it was assumed the beetles at least supplemented their diets this way. These aquatic plants are quite common and widespread but despite my extensive searching of these plants throughout the state I could find no more beetles.

I had been keeping all my photos since acquiring my first digital camera in 2001 (except those that I lost through poor backup procedures). [There’s no reason not to keep all your photos as a 2TB drive costs around $100 and could store a lifetime’s worth.] In the last five years or so I had been recording my sightings on BowerBird and ALA (and more recently here on inaturalist.org). When I had spare time (usually in winter) I would go through my old images and submit them as well (if I knew reasonably accurately where they were taken).

A few months ago I was looking for a record of mine on ALA but thought it had been lost until I realized I was only half way through processing my older photos from 2011, so I started processing a few more. When I got up to mid December I found an image of a lady beetle from the Otways that, although at the time I had no idea of what it was, I can now recognize well. It was of course Micraspis flavovittata rediscovered three years earlier – “prediscovered” if you like. At the time I had nowhere to put an average quality photo of an unidentified beetle so it just sat there for seven years. Incidentally after the 2014 discovery was publicized a Warrnambool resident had mentioned they saw a similar beetle a few years earlier that nobody could identify – but they didn’t keep their photo!

This Otways site is in Aire River Wildlife Reserve beside the Great Ocean Road in Glenaire. It consists of a drained floodplain or swamp now extensively covered predominately by exotic herb species (weeds). With a variety of flowers it would appear to provide a pollen food source for long periods throughout the year and the dense coverage also provides protection from weather or other threats. Along with the swamp areas in Discovery Bay Coastal Park, this site indicates that Micraspis flavovittata favours damp to wet areas and perhaps does not tolerate dry areas and open forests. Although the the two historical sites east of Melbourne have seen significant clearing, development and agriculture there should still be places the beetle has survived too so it is still worth searching. One site in Buxton that was explored in late 2014 as a potential beetle site turned out to be the only regular location now east of Melbourne for the endangered Ancient Greenling damselfly (Hemiphlebia mirabilis).

Also at Aire River two common lady beetle species were observed: Harmonia conformis and Coccinella transversalis.

Insects need thickly vegetated areas in which to roost, shelter and hibernate, habitat often missing in our cultivated farmlands and urban areas.

2011 observation
2019 observations
earlier post about this beetle

Publicado em 26 de março de 2019, 09:27 AM por reiner reiner | 1 comentário | Deixar um comentário

22 de novembro de 2018

Primary Tassie Objective Achieved

The main reason for visiting Tasmania at this time of year (early) was in the hope of photographing a rare endemic Archipetalia auriculata (Tasmanian Redspot). With only about ten public records available I thought it was never going to be easy. I thought they might like cascading waterfalls, like their closest relatives Austropetalia tonyana from Victoria. However a recent sighting in the south of the state by Elaine McDonald changed my mind as she found them near montane trickles in the Hartz Mountains. With this in mind my plan was to explore Cradle Mountain near some historic records and then the buttongrass plains near Savage River where I had found the uncommon Synthemiopsis gomphomacromioides (Tasmanian Spotwing) in February 2017. And I only had two days as the weather was going to turn Tasmanian.

Day One in Cradle Mountain provided fine weather but very few insects (and no dragonflies at all). Day Two still had fine weather but it was very windy (i.e. average for Tasmania's north-west). I started checking some of the swampy areas where I had found Synthemiopsis gomphomacromioides but without success until I visited a trickle flowing from a boggy flat. That's where I found Archipetalia auriculata! At first I thought I had even photographed a female (there are no in situ photos of females) but it turns out their anal appendages are not very significant — doesn't seem to bother them though. :) At this first site there were two males and then a little down the road I photographed another male. I'm thinking perhaps it was too late already for the females (the family all emerge early in the season, typically during October).

So now I will search some more for females when the weather gets better but its unlikely I will even get to the Hartz Mountains (I no longer need to) as there won't be enough fine days left during this trip.

Publicado em 22 de novembro de 2018, 04:14 AM por reiner reiner | 2 observações | 3 comentários | Deixar um comentário