Archive | November, 2013

So, what was it?

22 Nov

Yesterday when I did the research on this thing and found out what it was, I had a very nerdy moment of excitement.  Sure, most people get excited over things very different from this, but hey, a chacun son gout.

So, let me just get straight to it.  This funny little mystery is called…

The Bird-dropping Spider!!

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Once again it appears I’m a huge lover of spiders, and I guess I am, but they just seem to find me.  You’ll have to forgive the quality of the pictures.  This little guy was dedicated to his role as poo.  It took a lot of coaxing to get him to move enough just to get a few snaps before he went back into character.  And honestly, had I not prodded so much, he’d have never moved at all.  Great camouflage to fool predators and surprise unsuspecting prey.

The male of this species tends to be on the smaller side at around 3mm.  I’m guessing this one was either a male or young spider because that’s pretty much exactly how big it was.   If you zoom in on one of the pictures you can see some web, and apparently only the young of this species actually make web.  The females of the species are quite large and grow to about 20mm in length!  Oddly enough, it’s the females that are usually found with the males and young being seldom seen.  So this was quite a treat indeed!

My two guesses were a tiny frog and then when I noticed the “legs” had separate fingers, that it was some sort of spider.  I guessed a spiny orb type because of the cream/white “skull” part.  So I was partly right. 🙂

Back view

Back view

The pic above sort of looks like the front view of a tiny frog.

Front view

Front view

The picture above looks like the back of a tiny frog with its legs/knees along its sides.

Fun Facts:

These spiders are also known as Death’s Head Spider because from the top they resemble a skull.

Commonly found in orchards, they are also called Orchard spiders.

Like the Australian Huntsman, the female of this species attack their prey directly and do not build a web.

Adult bird-dropping spiders only capture one species of moth, the Lawn Armyworm.

The male of this species gives off a scent that mimics the scent of the female Armyworm moth.

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What is it?

21 Nov

Today’s post is a good one.  In my daily insect search through the yard’s bushes and trees, I spotted this.

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The hubby voted that it was bird poop and had quite a laugh at me taking a thousand photos of it.  You more experienced ‘wannabes’ out there might be able to get this one.  I had two guesses and one was way off.

I’ll give you a shot of one side and the other side.  And the only thing I can tell you was that it did not move…at all.  I blew on it, waved the leaf around, nothing.  (That poop guess was starting to loom over me.) This was all before and during the photo shoot.  I’ll add the rest of the story in the follow-up post.

Here’s another angle.

 

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Brown Cockchafer

17 Nov

Last night at dusk there were probably twenty Brown cockchafer beetles (that I could count) all flying around the mock orange bush.  They were quite buzzy and seemed to not be the best fliers so I had a hard time convincing either of the girls to try to catch one.   I reminded them that they’ve held cicadas three times that size but they weren’t having it.  Too much time out of the rainforest, I think.

I took a couple of not-so-great pictures of a pair mating that aren’t even worth a post but I got this close up…

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And then I dared my youngest (and usually bravest) to do this if I did.  I did and she backed out.

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Fun Cockchafer Beetle facts:

*Normally day fliers, they can come in swarms on warm summer nights.

*They are attracted to light.

*As larvae, they are considered pests because of the damage they can cause to eucalypts and other plants.

*There have been five Royal Navy Ships named HMS Cockchafer.

*In ancient Greece, children would tie string to a cockchafer’s feet and set it free, amusing themselves as it flew in spirals.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

15 Nov

Okay, so I may have to change the name of this blog to Wannabe Arachnologist seeing that all I seem to post anymore is spiders.  But (and don’t tell the insects this) spiders are just fabulous models.  Probably because while I’m taking photos they’re judging the distance from where they’re standing to my face.

I found this little cutie inside my house, as usual, so I relocated it to the patio for the photo shoot.  It was about the size of a US quarter, or Aussie twenty-cent piece.  It looks a lot bigger in the picture because of my awesome macro lens.

The challenge for “Eerie” is finished but I still wanted to post this pic even though I actually think it’s really cute looking, with all those eyes and fuzz.  But most people would categorize this a little differently.

Hey, how are ya?

Hey, how are ya?

Difference between Damselfly and Dragonfly

13 Nov

If you’d have asked me a few years ago what this was, I would have instantly said a dragonfly.  I now know the difference but I can understand how most people can get confused.

I found this beautiful specimen just hanging around in my neglected, but tomato-rific, garden.

Damselfly

Damselfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

So, what makes a Damselfly and what makes a Dragonfly?

Let’s first start with the similarities and the main reasons for the confusion.

They both have:

Big eyes

Long abdomen

Four wings

Both are from the insect order Odonata

And that’s about as far as most people get.  But if you’re an uber-nerd like me, you’ll quickly notice that a dragonfly’s thorax (where the front wings attach) is quite broad compared to the damsel.

The eyes of a damselfly also protrude off the sides of the head, whereas the dragonfly’s are flatter on the head and meet.

When resting, as you can see on the above pictures, the damselfly rests its wings together along/above its body.  The dragonfly will always have them straight out.

Both the dragonfly and damselfly have antennae although they are not easy to see.

So, think you can tell the difference between the two now?

Damselfly Fact:

Did you know that the damselfly is incapable of walking because of the position of its legs?

Peek-a-boo!

11 Nov

Found this little jumping spider while searching for caterpillars on the gardenia bush.  As you can see, he’s made himself a nice little meal trap from one of the gardenia buds.

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Did you know that jumping spiders make up the largest family of spiders?  They have 5000 described species!

So, what was it?

7 Nov

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We had a few good guesses from readers. One guessed it was a C Grub, and while that does give it a common name, we need a bit more information.

There are few different species of beetle whose larvae have a noticeable C shape; the Flower Chafers, the Stag Beetles (another reader guess) and the Scarab Beetles.

1. The Flower Chafers are found worldwide in tropical or sub-tropical regions, which is this part of Australia, sub-tropical.

2. The Stag Beetles are also found worldwide but typically on woodlands and forest areas.

3. The Scarab Beetles are also found worldwide in various things such as decaying matter, fungi and vegetation. Thy are also found under bark or in burrows of vertebrates.

And while we probably will never find out exactly which one it is, I’m going to guess that this particular larvae is going to be from the Scarab family and is either a Christmas Beetle or Rhinoceros Beetle.

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My reasons for this are that I’ve seen many of these two types of beetle at my house and my husband found this guy after digging a trench and noticed it in the soil, which is where the eggs are commonly laid. The Scarab larvae also have well-developed mandibles, which I found out part way through the photo session.

I did contemplate researching how to care for this guy just to see what it turned into but with three kids, two horses, one dog and a football team worth of birds to take care of, I just thought it might be too much. Plus, I just felt sorry for the guy sitting there wriggling, all out of his element. (So I’ll study now so I’m better prepared the next time one shows up 😉 )