Sunday, 27 March 2022

Now It Is Small White Moths

 We have recently had literally a plague of small black carabid beetles, Gnathaphanus philippensis (Chevrolat), attracted to lights at localities along the coast from Port Douglas south to Innisfail. I did a post about these beetles in 2011, see: It seems that they appear in huge numbers every 11 years or so. The beetle is not an Australian native but occurs naturally in south Asia. They are exceptionally abundant and cause concern to businesses because ther beetles are attracted to lights at night. They do not seem to cause any damage. It is their numbers that concern the general public.

Gnathaphanus philippensis (Chevrolat)

In the past few days a small moth has appeared in considerable numbers around lights in Kuranda. It is in the family Erebidae (formerly Arctiidae), subfamily Arctiinae. It is Chamaita barnardi (Lucas). As far as I know, the larvae have not been discovered. The moths may be associated with the flowers of the tree, Elaeocarpus bancroftii, the Kuranda Quandong.  The trees are in heavy flower at the moment. Male moths measure about 5.0 mm in length while the females are slightly larger at 6.5 mm.

A group of Chamaita barnardi on a Heliconia leaf.
A worn individual illustrating the translucent wings with the colours largely faded.
The brown colour markings are largely faded.
Front-on view showing the antennae with the hairy basal segments. This individual is less worn than the others.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

The Cassowaries return

 Remember to click on the image to enlarge

After a lengthy absence it was a surprise to see Mr & Mrs Cassowary in our driveway browsing palm fruits. We had not see either for over a month. The male had not brought off any chicks last year so we are hoping.....

The female is much larger than the male and has a much larger casque. The female is the bird at the top of the photo.

The casque is hollow and becomes chipped with time. The colours are spectacular at this time of year.

And then this fellow has appeared in the past few weeks. He wanders in daily and walks right up to the front door and just stands there until he tires. He\'d be in serious trouble if the adults happened to see him. And we would be in serious trouble if they were to trap him on our porch.

Be very cautious!

Friday, 22 October 2021

Insect Sightings


It's been a fairly sparse year so far but here are a few insects that we have encountered over the past few weeks.

The Giant Valanga Valanga irregularis (Walker)

This large grasshopper is known to every gardener. A female can deposit an egg case in the ground that can give rise to a couple of dozen voracious nymphs that can defoliate nearby plants in very short order. This grasshopper has many colour morphs. Individuals can be lead grey and without many spots or mottled brown like the one above.

A young nymph of the Giant Valanga ready to start several weeks of devastating feeding.
Once in a while you stumble on something special. This is a female Green Lacewing completing her evening's egg-laying activities. It is hypothesised that the eggs are laid on stalks to prevent the hatching larvae from eating one another. What do you think?

 Brown Bell Anaxipha fuscocinctum (Chopard)

One of the prettiest and most delicate of the small "trigs" or Leaf-running Crickets. The song is a faint long or broken trill, usually uttered at night.


Kuranda seems to have a fairly large number of longicorne beetles probably as a result of the high diversity of trees. Spring usually brings them on with the large prionines the first to appear but not this year.  A few longicornes that we don't often see have shown up at the lights recently.
Ancita sp.

Tricheops ephippiger
Kurandanus maculosus
Kuranda namesake!
Rhipidocerus sp.
Xingbaoia karakara Rentz
This individual must have overwintered as a nymph as it was one of the first katydid to appear this spring. It is primarily a predator and lives on the ground in leaf litter. It ascends vegetation after dark to feed. Here is is feeding on the particulate matter that rains down from the canopy.

And finally.
Monteith's Leaf Insect, Phyllium monteithi Brock and Hasenpusch
In mid spring males often show up at the light sheet. Females have never been seen here. They apparently spend their time high in the canopy and do not fly.
P. monteithi has a peculiar and distinctive odour that may act to avoid predation from birds and lizards. 


Spring has sprung and garden guests are appearing, some old friends and some recent additions.

Our regular male Cassowary who is said to have been in the neighbourhood for more than 40 years. For the second year in a row he has emerged without any chicks. Perhaps, his breeding days are finished. He appears to be in good condition.
Great Expectations

One of at least two large females that wander through the garden. We think this is one of Mr Cassowary's daughters. She is not at all aggressive and just stands aside if you walk by her. Cassowaries seem very curious by nature.

This large Goanna decided to take a sunbath on the front porch. In some ways a Goanna is more formidable than a cassowary. If you were carrying a food item that it wanted, it would just run up your body to get it. The claws are extremely sharp as the use them to climb trees and the head bears powerful muscles that can inflict a painful bite. Contrary to recent statements, Goannas are not venomous. Their mouths are full of various bacteria that can infect a bitten victim.
However, have a read of this re Goanna bites:

Emerald Ground Dove, originally photographed by Peter Shanahan who we miss very much.


Helmeted Friarbird, one of the bullies at the feeding station. It is a wary bird, probably on the lookout for Black Butcherbirds.

And, of course, there are Brush Turkeys. They definitely own the place.

Thanks to Margaret Humphrey for the link to the discussion on Goanna bites.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Moth Night 14 July 2021

Moth Night 2021

Cairns Botanic Gardens

14 July 2021

Cairns, Queensland, Australia

The annual  Moth Night was held on an unusually warm and humid night for Cairns. The even was preceded by a Sausage Sizzle and short talk. Approximately 65 people attended, most of who were members of the Friends of the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

Just prior to the talk, a Mole Cricket, Gryllotalpa sp. flew in. It seems to be an undescribed species!

So we would like to request the Volunteers to be on the lookout when they are digging to see if we can find more specimens. This one is a female. We need a male for a proper identification.

Part of the crowd
One of two sets of light sheets

Light sheets were set at two sites, one dominated by huge Paperbarks, Melaleuca leucadendra

Just on dark a small generator provided power and the moths and other insects started to appear. Australia is in mid-winter in July but being in the tropics, there is always some insect activity. 

Images provided by Buck Richardson, Hidetoshi Kudo (Mikey) and David Rentz.

Tropical moths can be identified by checking Buck Richardson's Moth Identification site ::

Hightlights of Australia tropical biota can also be found on D Rentz' blogspot:

Additional information provided in the "Albums" section of D Rentz Flickr Site:

The insect visitors: 

Aganaidae: Agape chlorophyga
Crambidae: Spoldea recurvalis
Crambidae: Glyphodes stolalis
Crambidae: Glyphodes multilinealis
Geometridae: Eumelea sp
Geometridae: Heterostegane sp. 
Drepanidae: Tridrepana lunulata
Uraniidae: Epiplema conflictaria
Arctiidae: Nyctemera sp
Lymantriidae: Arctornis submarginata

Other visitors:
An Assassin Bug, Reduviidae: Emesinae
A relatively large Pygmy Grasshopper, recently described Tetrifgidae: Selivinga tribulata
A native rainforest cockroach Ectobiidae: Carbrunneria maxi
Female Stick Insect Sipyloidea larryi (named in honour of Cyclone Larry!)
Tortoise Beetle: Chrysomelidae
Aggregation of Shield Bugs: Scutellaridae: Calliphara imperialis
Cranefly Tipulidae