Sunday, 27 December 2020

Holiday Katydids

 The rains have come-sort of. Adult katydids are showing up at the lights as well as on the rainforest vegetation. The first Queensland Palm Katydid was heard on the evening of 17 December. 

With the Christmas Holiday Season coming on, katydids are called Esparanzas in some cultures, the word meaning Hope. Let's all Hope that this is a pleasant season with less animosity and 2021 will be better than 2020--it just has to be.

   Garradunga Snub-nosed Katydid Chloracantha garradunga Rentz, Su, Ueshima

Garradunga Snub-nosed Katydid Chloracantha garradunga Rentz, Su, Ueshima
                              Garradunga Snub-nosed Katydid Chloracantha garradunga Rentz, Su, Ueshima
female pronotum
                                 Ingrisch's Forest Katydid Ingrischagraecia iterika Rentz, Su, Ueshima
Adult female, defensive
                                   Ingrisch's Forest Katydid Ingrischagraecia iterika Rentz, Su, Ueshma
                                                            Larifugagraecia sp.
    `                                                                Tropical Nicsara Nicsara trigonalis Walker
       Tropical Nicsara  Nicsara trigonalis Walker nymph
Destructive Katydid Austrosalomona destrucctor Rentz, Su, Ueshima

Buck's Unicorn Katydid Barbaragraecia richardsoni Rentz and Su 
Purple-winged Katydid Kurandoptera purpura Rentz, Su, Ueshima
Curvy-tailed Caedicia Caedicia flexuosa Bolivar
Curvy-tailed Caedicia Caedicia flexuosa Bolivar
Serrated Bush Katydid Paracaedicia serrata Brunner 
Kuranda Spotted Katydid Ephippitytha kuranda Rentz, Su, Ueshima
Balsam Beast Anthophiloptera dryas Rentz and Clyne 


Sunday, 20 December 2020

2020 was a Bummer of a Year for This Little Gecko As Well

 The other morning I came across this incident on our front porch. A small Brown Tree Snake (Night Tiger), Boiga irregularis (Colubridae) had captured one of the many geckos that hang around for the insects that are attracted to the lights. It is a rear-fanged snake and not especially dangerous unless you are bitten by a large (2m) specimen. This one was less than a foot long. But they have a rather nasty, aggressive disposition and will bite if threatened.

Brown Tree Snakes are common in and around rainforests where they feed on a variety of prey. Birds seem to be a specialty. One must never hang the budgie's cage out on the porch or it will surely become the prey of one of these snakes. Even if the cage is well out in the open, the snake will find a way (short of flying) to reach the poor bird. These snakes frequently enter homes through open windows and doors to wreak havoc on caged birds.

It was only a mater of minutes before the snake had consumed the lizard, head first.

Almost all gone.

Greg Watson suggests the gecko is the Asian House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus. He also speculates that this may be the first feed of this young snake.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Australia's (and Probably the World's) Longest Insect

Ctenomorpha gargantua Brock & Hasenpusch, the Gargantuan Stick-Insect, is no doubt one of the world's longest insects. Females measure more than 50 cm from the tip of the outstretched forelegs to the tip of the cerci (claspers). The longest specimen known measured in excess of 60 cm. The one figured here is around 55 cm. Males are considerably smaller, measuring about 30 cm.

C. gargantua occurs along the coast in rainforests from the vicinity of Cairns and Kuranda and the Atherton Tableland south to Mourilyan, Queensland. Males frequently fly to light. They are probably abroad at night in search of females. Females are rarely encountered. The likely reason is that they are short-winged and heavily bodied and less likely to attempt to fly unless greatly disturbed. They remain motionless in the tree tops. Because of their size, they would be attractive morsels for birds and lizards should they take to the wing. (The Pacific Baza, or Crested Hawk, Aviceda subcristata, is known to have a fondness for stick insects). Attempts at rearing the species from eggs is fraught with disappointment. Males seems to be able to make it through the developmental stages, but females encounter problems moulting in the latter stages. This may be associated with diet or, perhaps, humidity. In any even, the Gargantuan Stick-Insect is one of the north-western rainforest's treasures and most people living in the rainforest probably have no idea that these giants are among them.

Thanks to Paul Brock for comments.

Adult female Ctenomorpha gargantua. Note short wings.
Adult male Ctenomorpha gargantua. Note the longer wings and more slender body.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

New Book

The Queensland Museum has issued a new edition of its popular Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland. Originally published about 20 years ago, the book is 50 pages larger than the first edition and is updated and a lot of additional content has been added. This  includes sections on bats, fish, crustaceans and frogs. It covers the biota from Cooktown south to Mackay, east of the Great Dividing Range. 

The book has a fresh, crisp appearance.The photographs are outstanding and the colours are true. Price $A34.95--great value.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Termes on the Wing

 After several weeks of dry weather, we had a nice drop of rain. That prompted the local Termes species to initiate a nuptial flight. 

The mound was covered with hundreds of termites that took to the wing.
The termites were avidly eaten by birds and lizards and within 15 minutes it was all over.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Spring Has Sprung

On 29 September 2020 the first chorusing Northern Green Grocer Cicadas were heard in Kuranda. They are very noisy and you can hear what they sound like at:

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Trick or Treat!

Most mornings a young cassowary comes to the front door. He a recent outcast from his father and is on his own. He/she seems to be doing ok as long as it avoids the sight of his father who will drive him from his territory.

Each year young cassowaries reach to proper stage in their development and they are driven away by their father. They hang around for a few weeks and then disappear never to be seen again. Where they go is a mystery. There is some effort to tag them and to try and determine just where they end up. Unfortunately, recently several have come to grief on the highway.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Giant White-tailed Rat

The Giant White-tailed Rat (Uromys caudimaculatus) is just that. A large specimen may weigh 1 kg! These rats are common in rainforests where they have an omnivorous habit feeding on seeds, fruits and small animals. They cause considerable grief to their human neighbours when they chew on plastic and electrical components of automobiles and electric cables in ceilings. Anyone living in the tropics can relate stories to the depredations caused by these creatures.

Residents have discovered a way to cope with White-tailed Rat damage to vehicles is to open the bonnet at night and place a low wattage light over the engine. A bit costly to the electricity bill but nothing when compared to the damage a chewing rant can do after dark.

The power in the jaws and the efficiency of the teeth of the rats is seen on the ground where seeds so tough that it would take a mallet to smash them bear the characteristic chew holes of the rat.

Some people trap and kill the rats but they are a native to the area and belong here, we don't. And it is against the law. So we trap the rats and move them many kilometres distant to areas where they can cause no harm--we think.

Giant White-tailed Rats are formidable. When confronted they emit frightening vocalisations and bear their teeth. Care must be taken when dealing with these creatures. Have a listen to the vocalisations of the caged rat bclicking on the link below!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

A Gecko Bites the Dust

It must be an evolutionary embarrassment for a vertebrate to meet its fate at the hands (or fangs) of an invertebrate. It happens often. Giant centipedes capture nesting birds and roosting bats; large spiders capture birds, lizards and even small snakes.

We have been watching a large Golden Orb-weaver (Nephila pilipes) just outside our bedroom window and discover this morning that it had somehow captured a fairly large gecko overnight. It is probably an Asian House Gecko as they are fairly common both inside and outside the house. But they don't venture far from human habitation.

The photos are not the best because of the precarious position of the spider, my age, and my wife! But look closely and you will see a male spider on the abdomen of the female as she tends to her prey.

 Note two males.
 The small spider is the male of the species--just waiting for his opportunity to mate

Look closely and you will see the head and eye of the prey.

Friday, 10 April 2020

A not-so-welcome resident

A mall Red-bellied Blacksnake has apparently taken up residence around the place. He probably is attracted by the multitude of baby skinks. So one must look down as you walk, especially in the morning sun.

There's More!

Quite a surprise to meet Mr Cassowary and his 2 bubs for the year. He was a bit over anxious and I could not get any premium shots. The two chick look very healthy.

Cassowary Returns

After about 3 month's absence, we looked into our driveway and found Mrs Cassowary standing there. A welcome sight!

Oh, those big feet!

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

More Moths from Kuranda, Queensland

Here are some local moths to cheer up your day. These were all photographed at the same place. It has been suggested that perhaps 4000 species of moths occur in the rainforests around Kuranda.

To get an idea of size, the holes on the light sheet are roughly 1 mm across.
All of these moths were photographed at the same locality and within the past 2 weeks.

Click on the photos to enlarge

My world as I see it!
Cosmogonia decorata 
Crocanthes characotis 
Eublemma anachoresis 
Eudocima ?cocalus male 
Pingasa blanda
Tirathaba rufivena
Delgamma pangonia 
Hypena gypsospila 
Pingasa chlora 
Theila siennata 
Spodoptera litura 
Aeolochroma turneri 
Amyna apicipuncta 
Anthela sp 
Asura monospila 
Chaetolopha pseudooxyntis 
Chrysochlororoma  megaloptera  
Cleora goldfinchi
Elusa semipecten
Eumelea sp 
Leucania yu
Pindara serratiliinea?
Phazaca mutans
Bulonga distans 
Cleora costiplaga 
Cosmostola pyrrhogona
Crambidae; Wurthinae
Heterallactis ?stenochrysa 
 Hypena gonospilalis 
Lacalma mniomima
Lamprophaia ablactalis
Glyphodes onychinalis
Megarosticha repetitalis 
Keeping a safe distance: Mocis frugalis
Pantydia sp Noctuidae 
 Glyphodes onychinalis
 Palpita sp 
Maceda mansueta
Phycitinae Pyralidae
 ?Lacera sp 
 ? Tigriodes
Heteroteucha dichroella
 Callimima lophoptera

Casbia fasciata
  1.  Chamaita barnardi 

 Imma sp 
 Spodoptera mauritia 
 Paliga ignealis 
 Pachythrix hampsoni 
 Imma lyrifera Immidae 
 Hyposidra talaca Geometridae 
 Conogethes sp 
 Chorodna strixaria
Eudocima materna 
 Oecophoridae; genus ? 
Ubida sp
Moearchis hypomacra 
Tortricidae; genus ?
 Trigonodes hyppasia 
 Nygmia (Euproctis) actor 
 Naarda xanthonephra 
 Meliattha signfera
Hydriollodes sp 
 Heterallactis stenochrysa
 Crocanthes sidonia 
 Catoria delectaria 
 Casera bella
Asota heliconia

 Trigonobela perfenestrata 
 Spodoptera exempla 
 Oeonisitis altica 
 Agathodes ostentalis 
 Eusabena paraphragma Crambidae
Playing possum; Nygmia (Euproctis) actor 

Tridrepana lunulata Drepanidae