Saturday, 2 February 2013

It's Been A Good Year--For Some Things

Monteith's Leaf Insect, Phyllium monteithi Brock and Hasenpusch

I have reported on this insect several times in this blog. It is the only known Australian representative of the widespread genus. Usually I see a couple of males at the light sheet but this year four have appeared. It has been an oddly dry wet season this year. The female of the species is extremely elusive. Only one has been found in nature. Reasons for their rarity seem simple. They rarely, if ever, fly and they are truly arboreal. When the males show up at the lights, they tend to move upwards towards the canopy. I suspect that's where the girls are too.
 The flanged legs add to the leaf allusion.
 The three spots on the top of the head are "ocelli", false eyes, the function of which is rather speculative.
A peculiarity of this species is the "fuzzy" antennae.


Denis Wilson said...

Interesting David. But you are tricking us with the last image upside down.
I mean I got it, but you had me wondering.
Bronwen (aka "Snail") has also been commenting on the dry season up your way. A surprise to me, as we get the impression that everything "up north" is under water, but of course, that's a gross simplification.
That's the Media for you.
Local Blogs help rectify that.

Mr. Smiley said...

Hi Denis
Yes, the last image was upside down. These "walking Leaves" never stop moving once they get started so you have to take your shot when you can get it. Also the males at least take to flight readily. The females must be there but they are way up in the canopy I'd bet.

Yes, veery dry here for the "Wet Season". Tender garden plants requite water every day. And the temperatures seem abnormally high, 35-38C each day. But the Cassowaries are still going strong.