Friday, 23 December 2011

Ma:Mu Canopy Walk

One of the best kept secrets in the Cairns-Innisfail area is the Ma:Mu Canopy Walk. This should be one of the top tourist attractions in the region but it is never advertised in the media and few tourists seem to know about it.

located on the Palmerston Highway near Crawford's Lookout, it is very easily reached. There is a charge for entry, $20, and it is a about an 600 m walk from the carpark to the canopy walk itself. The canopy walk is about 350 m in length and some 15 m hight. In addition to the elevated walkway and tower, there is a cantilever jutting out from the mountain that provides a great view.

It was with considerable anticipation the the members of the Cape York Herpetological Society joined for a night walk in the canopy. Unfortunately, there were few reptiles and amphibians to view but a disturbing number of Cane Toads (Bufo marinus) greeted us along the track to the walkway.

Insects and spiders, as one might expect, were everywhere. Here are a few photos taken both from the walkway and the track leading to it. It is obvious that there is a lot of insect activity at night,. Have a look around your property after dark and you'll see what I mean.
 Night-time is great for dragonfly photography. This is the Green-striped Darner, Austroaeschna forcipiata. It would be virtually impossible to photograph this dragonfly during the day.
 One of the silent crickets, Aphonoides lowanna. Many cricket genera have lost the ability to sing. They probably rely on pheromones to get together.
 An example of the cricket genus Unka, an Australian endemic genus with several species in the  rainforests of north Queensland.

One of several species of Raspy Cricket, probably Xanthogryllacris sp., stopping on the handrail to consume a caterpillar it has found in its night searching. These crickets construct shelters from leaves which they tie together with silk from their mouthparts. They have a complex means of finding their way back to their enclosures after a night's searching that involves both memory and pheromones

A common leaf beetle, Chrysomelidae.
A not-so-common longicorn, family Cerambycidae.
One of the advantages of  a canopy boardwalk is the ability to see things that you would otherwise miss down on the ground. Biroella grasshoppers are on example. They live on vegetation high in the treetops and are relatively poorly known. This is Biroella tardigrada Sjøstedt, longtime considered to be in the family Eumastacidae but now in the Marabidae; Biroellinae.
A rainforest grasshopper, Desmoptera truncatipennis Sjøstedt, Pyrgomoprhidae. These grasshoppers spend the day in leaf litter on the ground but ascend the vegetation at night to feed. Inadvertently, they avoid being the food of the ever-present marauding Cane Toads that would find them were they to be on the ground at night.
 A catacoline fruit-piercing moth high in the tree tops feeding at night on fruits.
 A beautiful male of the genus Chloracantha; Tetttigoniidae; Pseudophyllinae
 A pair of a related species of Chloracantha. Males often ride around on the backs of females and facing in the opposite direction.
Night-time is the time when many insects moult their skins. Reasons for this are several. The relative humidity is high, there is generally less wind that would interfere with this delicate procedure and the "cover of darkness" reduces the chance of vertebrate predation. This species of Mastigaphoides is just about ready to begin the moulting process.
 The beautiful Eumundi, Leucopodoptera eumundii Rentz & Webber, Tettigoniidae; Phaneropterinae; Holochlorini. named, in part, after an extinct beer of the same name!
 Rentz's Sipyloidea Stick Insect, Sipyloidea rentzi Brock & Hasenpusch, Diapheromeridae; Necrosciinae
 Probably the Cyclone Larry Sitck Insect, Siplyoidea larryi Brock & Hasenpusch
Queensland Beak-abdomen Stick Insect, Rhamphosipyloidea queenslandica (Sjøstedt)
 A blattodean, Neotemnopteryx sp. resting on one of the guide-wires. Ectobiidae; Blattellinae; Parcoblattini
 Another blattodean, this one in the family Blaberidae, Molytria sp. Females of this genus are seldom seen unless the collector looks for them on purpose. They live in the ground and are flightless. Males are regularly encountered after dark on leaf surfaces where they "graze" on the particulate matter than rains down from above. This is all part of the recycling process.
 Methana convexa (Walker), family Tryonicidae; Tryonicinae, a common blattodean of the rainforests in the Cairns vicinity. This one is feeding on some minute food substance that is on the handrail.
A tessaratomid, Lyramorpha rosacea Westwood. This is one of several bugs where mothers look after their children!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Jumper

Jumping Spiders (family Salticidae) seem to be common in my shadehouse despite the exclusion of most large insects which might serve as prey for them. A number of species are on the hunt all day long. Hopefully, they are successful at times! This one seems to be ia psecies in the genus Mopsus.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Tis the Season

It's Christmas and the Christmas Beetles (Anoplognathus species) are out and about. In fact, some species seem to be unusually common this year. My friend Jack says that A. smaragdinus Ohaus has defoliated trees in his area.

About 35 species of the genus are known. Most seem to be associated with eucalypts.

We normally get only a few at lights here but elsewhere they are coming in by the hundreds. And this year some unusual colour morphs are appearing.
Anoplognathus smaragdinus Ohaus; Scarabaeidae; Rutelinae Green morph, by far the commonest, outnumbering the ohter colour morphs hundreds to one.
Anoplognathus smaragdinus Ohaus; Scarabaeidae; Rutelinae Red morph, very uncommon
Anoplognathus smaragdinus Ohaus; Scarabaeidae; Rutelinae Mixed morph, probably the most common of the odd morphs
Anoplognathus smaragdinus Ohaus; Scarabaeidae; Rutelinae Blue Morph, the least common and the most sought after by collectors. A real beaut.

Cairns Birdwing

If you look down the page of this blog you will see the caterpillar of the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly,Ornithoptera euphorion. The three caterpillars have now pupated and the chrysalis is almost as spectacular as the butterfly itself!
Pupa or chrysalis of the Cairns Birdwing butterfly, Ornithoptera euphorion, lateral view. Note the halter of silk that holds the pupa in proper position.
Pupa or chrysalis of the Cairns Birdwing butterfly, Ornithoptera euphorion, lateral view.

Now we await the appearance of the adult!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Moth Cavalcade Continues

Just enjoy the colours and shapes of the thousands of species of rainforest moths
Westermannia gloriosa; Nolidae; Chloeophorinae
Thallarcha epileuca: Arctiidae; Lithosinae
Epicoma melanospila; Notodontidae; Thaumetopoeinae (Mareeba area)
Lyclene reticulata; Arctiidae; Lithosinae
Lactura suffusa; Lacturidae
Hypsidia erythropsalis; Drepanidae
Casbia sp; Geometridae; Ennominae
Heterallactis stenochrysa; Arctiidae; Lithosinae
Eustixis sp ?parallelus; Lacturidae
The Four O'clock Moth Dysphania numana; Geometridae; Geometrinae
Diasemiopsis ramburialis; Pyralidae (=Crambidae); Pyraustinae
Crocanthes sp; Lecithoceridae
Comana corones; Limacodidae
Cirrochrista aetherialis; Pyralidae (=Crambidae); Pyraustinae
Chorodna strixaria; Geometridae; Ennominae
Platyja exequialis; Noctuidae; Catocalinae (What's wrong with this picture!)
Anthela sp; Anthelidae
Anthela sp; Anthelidae
?Nacoleia sp; Pyralidae (=Crambidae); Pyraustinae (note the parasitic mites)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Neat Weevils

Poropterus sp; Curculionidae; Cryptorhynchinae

There are more weevils than probably any other group of insects. They range in size from a fraction of a millimetre to some giants of several centimetres. They live in most habitats in the rain forest and it is not uncommon to see several different species during the course of a night search. Not all weevils belong to the one family Curculionidae. There are several related families that can be called weevils.

Anyone working on Australian weevils will require the multi-volume set of splendid works of the late E. C. Zimmerman published by CSIRO Publishing.

Euschizus dictatorius (Kleine): Brentidae; Trachelizini
Uropteroides gestroi (Senna): Brentidae; Trachelizini

Dendropemon albopictus (Jordan): Anthribidae
Same species but note the peculiar "thrichobothria" that occur only on the abdomen of the male