Friday, 25 October 2019

Lumholtz Tree-kangaroo in Kuranda

There have been a few sitings of the Lumholtz Tree-kangaroo in Kuranda over the years. A dead individual was seen along the Kuranda Range Road and one was reported near the railway station years ago.

But here's a recent siting in a garden on Gregory Terrace, Top of the Range, Kuranda.

The Lumholtz Tree-kangaroo is the smallest of the Tree-kangaroos weighing a little over 7 kg. These animals are more associated with altitudes higher than in Kuranda (330 m). Although they have a limited geographic range they are not uncommon on the Atherton Tablelands. Viral infections
 were said to lead to blindness in these creatures. However, this hypothesis has been largely discredited.

Tree-kangaroos frequently come to ground and there they are susceptible to attacks by dogs. And they don't mix well with automobiles. They are often seen during the day as well as night.

Thanks to Ms Carrie Bies for the photo

Monday, 2 September 2019

Moth Night, Cairns, Australia, 2019


The annual Moth Night was held in the Botanic Gardens, Cairns on 28 August 2019. More than 50 members of the public attended, including several children. It was a perfect night--warm, windless and dry. Moth Night is an international event with over a dozen countries taking part. It was organised in the Northern Hemisphere during July. Of course, it is mid-summer in July in those climes and moths are at their peak abundance at that time. We decided to hold our Moth Night a month later this year so it would be closer to Spring and maybe a few more moths than usual would be active. It seemed to be a good move but we feel it would have been even more productive if it were not so dry. A good rain a couple of weeks prior to the even might have prompted more insects to emerged from their winter slumber.

Moth-ers assembled at 6.00 pm in the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre for a short talk and to meet one another and view a couple of drawers of local moth specimens that they might encounter later. Light refreshments were served and then the attendees went out to check the two light sheets, We wandered around observing and photographing insects that were active in the vicinity of the light sheets. Most folks agreed that spiders outnumbered the insects. Several large Wolf Spiders and Huntsmen of various sizes were out and about. Lacewing eggs and a few caterpillars as well as nymphal katydids were discovered.

Photos were provided by Kylie Brown (KB), Louisa Grandy (LG) and Buck Richardson (BR).

The talk KB photo
The talk KB photo
Ava picks the one butterfly amongst a drawer of moths. KB photo
DR setting up the lightsheet. LG photo
Buck Richardson setting up his lightsheet .LG photo
Ava checks out an Amerilla. KB photo
Nyctemera-secundiana. BR photo
Argina-astraea. BR photo
Heterallactis-niphocephala. BR photo
Amerila-rubripes. BR photo
Mecodina-bisignata. BR photo
Rusicada-revocans. BR photo
Autoba-abrupta. BR photo
Chrysodeixis-illuminata. BR photo
The Moth of the Night
The Four O'clock Moth, Dysphania-numana. BR photo

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Flight of the Zodiac

In the past couple of months people from around north Queensland have been reporting aggregations of the day-flying Zodiac Moth, Alcides metaurus.

Click on the photo to enlarge

This is a spectacular moth to say the least. Most people think it is a butterfly because it feeds at flowers and behaves somewhat like a butterfly. The moth is a member of the family Uraniidae, a family of often gaudy moths many of which are diurnal. It is a large moth, measuring 50-60 mm across and is active in late afternoons. The caterpillars feed on leaves of the large vine, Omphalea queenslandiae of the family Euphorbiaceae. Judging by the numbers of moths and the extent of the reports of the migrations, these vines should be quite bare by now!

Mass movements of the Zodiac Moth  in north Queensland have been known for years. They always attract attention because the moths rest en masse in selected trees. That is what attracts the attention of the public.
We observed small numbers of the moths in the Daintree and they all seemed to be travelling in a southerly direction.
Thanks to Christina for use of the photo. It was taken at Wondecla, Qld.

Hong Kong Students Visit the DRO

Recently some 45 high school students from Hong Kong paid a visit to the Daintree Rainforest Observatory of James Cook University. It was part of a lengthy visit to northern Queensland. Considering that they had probably never been so close to nature, they were quite interested in what biologists do and how they do it. They had a go with insect collecting and recognising the various insect groups. A night walk was greeted with enthusiasm and no one exhibited any sort of fear. AND curiously, being without their social networks by phone did not seem to worry them.

Click oin the photos to enlarge
 The mountains in the Daintree

This is what they saw

Thanks to Buck Richardson for most of the photos

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Whitfield State School ELF Day

Whitfield State School, Cairns
Click on photos to enlarge

Local educator Peter Shanahan displays his collection several times a year to schools, public events and the like in the Cairns area. The diversity of insects always attracts attention.

He especially likes showing it to young children and stressing the importance of insects. He usually starts by asking "who likes insects"? Almost all raise their hands.
Then he tells them of the importance of insects, noting pollination, decomposition and the fact that so many organisms rely on insects for their food.

Of course there is an element of fun too.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


It was sad to hear of the the death of Densey Clyne. She was a naturalist and wonderful writer and "champion of the underbug" as she called herself. Her photography was second to none and a highlight of her many books. 

Densey has been mentioned several times over the course of this blog:

Her most recent book "My Encounters with Minibeasts- from Purple Moonbeams to Itchy Cows" was published just last year.

I had the pleasure to describe a new genus of katydid in the endemic Australian subfamily Zaprochilinae, Anthophiloptera dryas Rentz and Clyne many years ago.