Archive | September, 2015

Bush walk snaps

30 Sep

Today I took the kiddos out for a bush walk to see what goodies we could find.  It seemed at first it was all for naught, but then things picked up speed.


Casemoth/bagworm caterpillar and case.

We keep points whenever someone spots something, and CJ came out of the gates strong with the Casemoth caterpillar spotting and then…



this beautiful dragonfly. The kids got an eye.


Tree-running Mantid - Ciulfina sp.

Next up we saw this beautiful Tree-running Mantid. I just love how the colour blends with the tree.



We found this cicada moments after spotting an exoskelton. Which my brave girl put on her shirt like a broach.


Next we found this assassin bug nymph. Such little pieces of artwork.


Assassin bug nymph

Some of you may have no idea what this next thing is, and I didn’t at first, but this is the secret hideaway of the Spittle bug.


Spittle bug hideout

The Spittle bug is in the Family Aphrophorid, in the order Hemiptera. (Think Leafhopper) These nymphs form a little cubby of spittle around themselves to protect from predators and dehydration; it is theorized. I see a lot of these in pine trees.


And lastly, a picture of three happy, bush-walking, insect-hunting kiddos.

Meet my Huntsman spiders!

28 Sep

I’ve said a few times that maybe I should have called this blog “Wannabe Arachnologist”, since my love of spiders seems to overshadow my love for insects…at times.

I suppose my love for spiders is a bit bigger than your average person (and considered insane by a lot), but I honestly find it strange that not everybody thinks they’re amazing.

So, you wont be surprised to learn that I currently have four Huntsman spiders from three different species. Two I bought from registered breeders, and two were given to me by friends who kindly spared their lives.

First up is Cuddles, my female Holconia immanis. Also known as the Banded or Giant Grey Huntsman. And those two humans are my daughters posing next to the cage I made for Cuddles.

Next, is Dash, my Fireback Huntsman (Beregama cordata). This one is fast, hence the name. Huntsman are known to be fast anyway, but this cutie is like the Usain Bolt of the spider world.


This next beauty , Red, is a gorgeous Heteropoda species, or Brown Huntsman. The picture is very misleading. This beautiful creature actually looks a lot redder to the naked eye. I used a flash on this photo, so it’s hard to tell.


And last, but certainly not least is my other Holconia immanis huntsman that was given to me by a friend who really wanted it relocated far away from her house. It’s grown quite a bit since I’ve gotten it, and is just stunning.


In case you’re wondering, huntsman are venomous, but do not have “medically significant” venom. And they can be quite docile in captivity, choosing flight over fight most of the time. Respect is always key when handling any insect or spider.

If you want to read more about the huntsman, or about the time I was bitten by one, click HERE.

The Isle of Man

27 Sep

Every once in a while I decide to look through my blog stats. I like to see what search terms were used to find the blog (I use this info for future posts), how people find me (i.e. search engines, facebook, etc.), and where the traffic is coming from, as in country.

Recently, I had a hit from The Isle of Man. Some (or a lot) of you may know where that is, but I had never even heard of it. So, I decided to do some research on it.


Yep, that little red circled island is it. Here’s what wikipedia tells us about this tiny isle:

“The Isle of Man, otherwise known simply as Mann, is a self-governing British Crown dependency located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is represented by a Lieutenant Governor, but its foreign relations and defence are the responsibility of the British Government.”

So then I thought I’d look up what insects were known to be on The Isle of Man. There weren’t too many out-of-the-ordinary ones, but I did find one that is definitely worth a mention. (Plus, it happens to be a part of one of my top four favourite orders of insects…Orthoptera. (Katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets.)

Meet the Speckled bush-cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima).


Photo cred:

And perhaps the most intriguing thing about these creatures, and I’m sure the reason for their common name, is the look of the nymphs of this species. How amazing is this?

Now, Im not sure why someone on Mann happened to cross paths with my little blog, but it sure was interesting getting to know more about it, and its lovely inhabitants.

Violet-winged Stick insect (Didymuria violescens) emerging from egg!

25 Sep

Tonight I was in the insect room (yes, I have an entire room for them) cleaning the cages and making sure everyone was fed.  I decided to move my “video” cage full of various eggs to a smaller container to move a huntsman to the larger one.  I wasn’t really expecting anything to hatch at 9pm at night (they usually hatch between 5-10am) so, imagine my surprise when I looked down and saw a Violet-winged Stick insect hatching!  I quickly grabbed my phone and started video taping.  The video is nearly 3 minutes long, and at the very end I switch it off to help the insect get loose of the egg casing (per my worried daughter’s wishes), so rest assured, everything turned out okay.

This is what the Violet-wing (also known as the Spur-Legged Stick insect) looks like as nymph.


And this is what they look like as adults.

These stick insects, like most, feed on eucalyptus leaves.  The males are able to fly, but the females do not. These insects occur on the east coast of Australia.  They get their common name obviously from the colour on their wings, but their other common name ‘spur legged’ is from the distinctive spurs on the male’s thicker hind legs.

Plume moth-Family Pterophoridae

25 Sep

Plume moths are one of the most unique moths, in that when they are at rest, they hold their wings (which they roll up) lateral to their body, creating their signature resting ‘T’ shape.

I found this large plume moth resting on my kitchen window.

Neuroptera larvae

22 Sep

I won’t even try to guess whether these alien beings are owlfly or antlion larvae, but consider that two years ago my discovery of these made me think aliens had in fact landed, and I’m just happy I can ID these weird suckers…to a point.


I was doing my nightly “flip everything over to see what turns up” rounds when I stumbled on these guys. They looked like chunks of dirt,  but those gorgeous mandibles were a dead giveaway.

So, although these things seem to have just landed from somewhere in outerspace, they are just the larvae of lacewings, antlions, and owlflies in the order Neuroptera. (More on that later ;))

Spiny Leaf insect hatching (Extatosoma tiaratum) Great video!

16 Sep

So, I finally got a good quality video of one of my Spiny leaf insects (Extatosoma tiaratum) hatching.  I’m so happy to finally catch this amazing event.  I’ve always wondered how such a gangly (yet still small) insect comes from such a tiny egg.  You’ll notice that the legs almost seem pliable at first, which probably explains their ability to be folded up in such a tiny space.  A lot like humans, it seems!  The action takes place near the bottom third of the screen.  Be sure to click on the ‘enlarge screen’ tab to really get a close-up look.  And don’t worry, the egg came off of his/her foot eventually. 🙂

Goliath Stick insect nymph

12 Sep

These guys are hatching so quickly now! I’m trying to get more video of these and the Spiny Leaf’s hatching, so be patient. Just couldnt help share a quick little picture with you all. They probably aren’t more than an inch long. 🙂


Stick insect emerging from egg (Spiny Leaf insect-Extatosoma tiaratum)

11 Sep

I set up my laptop camera (all the extended-video capabilities at the moment) to try and capture one of my stick insects emerging from an egg.  After hoooooouuuurrrsss, I finally captured a really bad 33-second video of one tiny little Spiny Leaf insect (Extatosoma tiaratum) emerging!  If you divide the screen up into fours, the action happens in the bottom left of the screen.  (You may have to watch a few times.)

I’ll be doing some more videos in the next few days, and hopefully will get a much clearer one.  My Goliath Stick insects (Eurycnema goliath) are also hatching at a pretty good rate, so will probably see some of those as well.

Green-headed ant (Rhytidoponera metallica)

10 Sep

The Green-headed ants (not to be confused with the Green Tree Ant-Oecophylla smaragdina) although beautiful close up, are not a lot of fun for people like me. I’m allergic to all sorts of things from antibiotics, to some plants, to apparently ant bites! Although I don’t get full anaphylaxis with ant bites (like I do with antibiotics), I do react to them more than the average person. Especially these guys.

I’ve been bitten on three different occasions by them, and every time a tiny little bite turns into a huge, swollen ordeal.


Back of my thigh from one bite.

This time, while walking through the front yard, I got two bites on my foot. One I actually felt, and when I looked down an ant was in another spot on my foot still biting.

So, I decided to investigate what it is about these guys that make me react so badly to them.

First of all, these ants don’t actually cause reaction from their bite. They have a stinger in their abdomen, which injects a
venom. Most of what I read, aside from the Queensland Museum site, made the effects from the sting seem very benign, with reaction lasting at most a day. My foot was swollen for at least 3 days, and even now (9 days later) it still itches near the stings.

The pain I would liken to a shot from a needle, than a burning sensation. It feels similar to a bee sting. After that, it’s painful with the swelling, feels very hot, and the true itching starts when the healing starts… and boy is it bad.

So, what in the venom causes all of this drama? Formic acid-a naturally occuring organic acid used in many applications. But most notably, the main ingredient in ant venom. 🐜


Formic acid

These ants are common in yards,
so (needless to say) I’m going to be a lot more careful going shoeless, or sitting, in the grass from now on.