Saturday, 13 December 2008

Rearing Lepidoptera

I've added a "Rearing Lepidoptera" section to my web site. It's basically notes and photographs from some of my rearing projects. I still have a few more to add but unfortunately I have lost 29 lots of project notes on my computer. The missing ones are all Australian species I've reared over the last 2 years. I've checked back up discs etc but just can't figure out what I've done with them. Such is life. I'll just have to start again.

In the mean time, perhaps a few of you may find these of interest.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Backyard Visitor

Well I'm supposed to be taking a break from blogging but I thought I'd post a photo of my latest backyard visitor; The Tiger snake - Notechis scutatus. We've been in this house for two years and two months and this is the first one I've spotted here. It was on the fence just a few metres from the back door.

I was in the veggie garden hilling up my tatties at the time when I heard a Fairy wren going nuts about something. Looked up and noticed two Fairywrens and a couple of House Sparrows having a go at the snake. The fence is nearly 7 foot high and I always considered it to be snake proof. What I overlooked was that the other side of the fence is covered in mesh enabling the snake to climb up. It was trying to get onto a wattle tree on my side. It soon gave up and went to ground in the neighbouring block but soon after made two more attempts to climb various points along the fence. Further up the back I don't have a fence so no doubt it eventually found it's way over to our side but I lost sight of it. Now everyone is refusing to feed the chooks and ducks or collect the eggs :-)

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
Italic#1 - Tiger snake - Notechis scutatus

#2 - Tiger snake - Notechis scutatus (cropped from first shot)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Time Away from Blogging.

.....but "I'll Be Back"

I've haven't posted as often lately as I've bee preoccupied with updates to my website on the "Lepidoptera of Tasmania". As I've stated elsewhere it has been in a bit of a mess since I mucked up the database. I'm slowly rebuilding it but it still needs a lot of work. It now has 273 Tasmanian species with photos or illustrations. It also has a check list of 1,472 species known to be found in Tasmania. I still have more photos to add and I have to get the notes written up for each moth as well. By the way, many of the moths on the site are also found on the mainland, particularly in the south-east so hopefully it will be of some use outside of Tassie.

So, I'll be missing for a little while as I need to spend less time on the blog until I get the job up to date. I'll still be checking in on everyone else's blog.

Screen capture of the Home Page

Screen capture of Page 1 of the Geometridae thumbnails.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Mothing - 24th - 28th November

Here are just a few of the moths that have come to the moth trap in the last few days.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - Niceteria-macrocosma - (Geometridae : Ennominae)
Dorsal view

#2 - Niceteria-macrocosma - (Geometridae : Ennominae)
Lateral view - At rest with wings folded in tent like fashion.

#3 - Niceteria-macrocosma - (Geometridae : Ennominae)
Ventral view - Showing the brightly coloured underwings

#4 - Gastrina cristaria - (Geometridae : Ennominae)
Dorsal view

#5 - Gastrina cristaria - (Geometridae : Ennominae)

#6 -Unknown- FW 15mm (Geometridae)

#7 -Unknown - FW 13mm (Prob. Geometridae)

#8 - Gauna aegusalis - FW 10mm (Pyralidae : Pyralinae)

#9 - Etiella behrii - (Pyralidae : Phycitinae)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Honeybrown Beetle

..... Ecnolagria grandis and with a weevil thrown in

Below are a couple of beetles I found in the backyard last Saturday. Photos #4 & #5 show a weevil. With over 300 weevil species in Tasmania I don't expect to narrow it down any more than that.

Photos #1, #2 & #3 are the Honeybrown Beetle, Ecnolagria grandis. This beetle belongs to the Lagriinae, a subfamily of the Tenebrionidae (some count Lagriidae as a separate family).

The majority of Tenebrionids feed on dead plant material and fungi and many books and web sites say that E. grandis is also such a scavenger. Personally I had always assumed they were leaf eaters as I usually find them on a variety of native plants, especially on Eucalypts. Confused, I searched for more information and I found the paper listed below. This clearly states that they feed on fresh leaves of a varity of plants including, Brachychiton, and Leptospermum. While beetles were found on Eucalyptus spp, no mention is made of Eucalyptus being part of their diet so I will have to observe more closely the Honeybrown Beetles in my backyard. At least it confirms that they do in fact feed on living leaves. The adults of this species are short lived. Most of their life is spent in the larval stage underground. Perhaps it is at this stage that they feed on leaf litter.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - Honeybrown Beetle - Ecnolagria grandis
By pure coincidence, this one happens to be on a dead leaf :-)

#2 - Honeybrown Beetle - Ecnolagria grandis

#3 - Honeybrown Beetle - Ecnolagria grandis
(This is an older photo from 2006. I've included it to show a lateral view)

#4 - Unknown Weevil - ( Curculionidae)

#5 - Unknown Weevil - ( Curculionidae)

  • Hawkeswood T.J. & Turner J. R. (2003) Some notes on the biology, host plants and occurrence of the Australian lagrid beetle Ecnolagria grandis (Gyllenhal, 1817) (Coleoptera: Lagriidae). Spilopyra, 4: 1-3.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A Two Tailed Lizard

..... A Curious Side Effect of Tail Shedding

We found a two tailed lizard in the car port yesterday. It's a Metallic Skink.- Niveoscincus metallicus.

Tail shedding is a common tactic of many lizards which increases their chance of escape from predators. It seems in this case that either the tail has not shed properly or else it has suffered some sort of injury. Either way the regeneration process has been triggered but the original tail has healed. The end result is the curious two tailed lizard shown below. It's not all that unusual as I have seen others over the years but it's always interesting none the less.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
#1 - A two tailed Metallic Skink.- Niveoscincus metallicus.

#2 - Detail of the tail(s)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser

.....Uraba lugens

The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser is better known for the damage it does to Eucalyptus leaves than for the moth itself. At this time of year I find hundreds if not thousands of these caterpillars up the back of our place.

The caterpillars are gregarious and feed on the surface of the leaf, leaving behind just the veins or skeleton as can be seen in photo #6 below. Each time they shed their skin the old head capsule is retained like a little party hat until you end up with 3 or 4 stacked up high.

If disturbed they will all jump overboard and hang from a thread. That's what enabled me to get the shot of the underside in photo #3.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens

#2 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Carrying two old head capsules which would suggest it is a third instar larva.

#3 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Defense tactic of dropping from a leaf attached by a thread of silk.

#4 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Gregarious in nature

#5 - The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens
Various instars

#6 - Leaf damage caused by the The Gum Leaf Skeletoniser - Uraba lugens

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Below are a few caterpillar photos from today. This is the first time I've found Hakea Moth larvae - Oenochroma vinaria in the backyard although I certainly see the moths often enough at the light trap.

(Click to Enlarge Photos)

#1- Hakea Moth - Oenochroma vinaria - Defensive posture

#2 - Hakea Moth - Oenochroma vinaria feeding on Hakea decurrens
Note only the cuticle is being eaten.

#3 - Crexa Moth - Genduara punctigera feeding on Exocarpos cupressiformis

#4 - Helena Gum Moth - Opodiphthera helena - 1st (left) and 2nd (right) instars

#5 - Helena Gum Moth - Opodiphthera helena - 2nd instar

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


I took a wee walk up the back hill today to photograph some of the plants which are currently flowering as well as some that are already setting seed. Here's what I found:

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - Pale Flaxlily - Dianella longifolia

#2 - Heartleaf Bushpea - Pultenaea daphnoides

#3 - Heartleaf Bushpea - Pultenaea daphnoides

#4 - Forest Daisybush - Olearia lirata

#5 - Sag- Lomandra longifolia

#6 - Native Pigface - Carpobrotus rossii

#7 - Manuka - Leptospermum scoparium

#8 - Hop Native-primrose - Goodenia ovata

#9 - Large Kangaroo Apple - Solanum laciniatum

#10 - Sunshine Wattle - Acacia terminalis

Monday, 17 November 2008

Spider Takes Earwig

.....Walk into my parlour

With the temperature down to about 4 degrees last night there was not much happening at the moth trap. I soon found that all the action was happening inside when I spotted this spider in the bathroom window. It had just caught an earwig which was still fighting for it's life. The spider kept retreating and then diving in trying to hogtie the spider.The earwig was relatively free to move except for it pincers which were totally entrapped. This morning the spider was enjoying earwig for breakfast.

Oh and does anyone know what these spiders are? At this stage I'm assuming family Theridiidae and possibly Achaearanea sp.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

#1 - Gotcha!

#3 - Struggle

#3 - Hogtied

#4 - Breakfast

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Crexa Moth Caterpillars

..... Genduara punctigera

On the 26th October I posted a photo of a Crexa moth (Lasiocampidae)

The moth was put in a jar waiting to be released. Unfortunately the jar was put aside and overlooked until today. Fortunately I was in time to discover the 129 caterpillars which were climbing around on the inside of the jar. A few were already dead so I would say they would have hatched at least 24 hours ago. From that we can say the eggs would have taken about 17 days to hatch.

The caterpillars are only 5mm in length. If disturbed they drop and hang from a thread of silk.

#1 - Eggs - already hatched

#2 - First instar larva next to eggs - about 5mm in length

#3 - Lateral view of larva

#4 - Larva feeding on Native Cherry - Exocarpos cupressiformis

#5 - Mum - The adult female moth