Sunday, 14 February 2010

Rainforest Gems

This Superb Fruit Dove literally dropped in. It hit the window and was stunned for a time and that allowed a photo or two. These birds are supposed to be common but are usually in tree tops or out of sight where they feed on a variety of fruits and palm nuts. The species extends north to Indonesia.

If you are into cockroaches, this would have to be a favourite. It is Mediastinia australica (Shelford). You can judge its size from the weave of the light sheet. It probably spends the day tightly embedded in the unfurling leaves of ginger or ginger-like plants. After dark it forays for food on leaf surfaces.

Monteith's Leaf Insect. Every year I see 2-3 of these wonderful insects. The Leaf Insects are related to Stick Insects. This is the only known Phyllium in Australia. There is a related leaf insect, Nanophyllium pygmaeum Redtenbacher, that lives in the vicinity of Iron Range north Queensland. Leaf insects are found broadly in the Old World tropics. They are kept as pets by members of the Phasmid Study Group where you can find all sorts of information on the care of stick insects in captivity.

Monteith's Leaf Insect is known only from males. The girls must be up there but only a photo of one taken in the Cairns Botanic Gardens is all we know of them. Leaf insects always have the tendency to move upwards. They seem to be at home in tree tops, so when one like this comes to the lights, it does not stay for long. Females of other species are often bulky and seem incapable of flight. So it is not surprising to not have seen one of this species. But it will happen some day; perhaps, during a storm or after a cyclone, one will happen along. This insect would make a great display in an insect zoo.


froggybeth said...

The Mediastinia looks like a coloured glass ornament - exactly how small is it that the weave of the light trap looks so large?

And I have never seen a fruit dove without branches, leaves and any other bit of vegetation obscuring my view!


Mr. Smiley said...

Thanks froggybeth. The cockroach is about 6 mm long! A small gem. The dove is just beautiful. What more can I say.