aye aye captain

Champions - Return to Edge City : Geomancy 101

I realise it's been quite a while since the last Edge City post, but between COVID-19, lightning strikes, Weldun somehow nearly getting his ears blown six feet into his skull by an audio glitch, and more, we haven't actually got many hours in. The same has applied to the Pathfinder game, to a slightly lesser degree.

Cleaning up after Humanity First tried to prepare deadly chemical weapons to use against the Moreau population.

After Scooter nearly murdered one of the racist mooks at the chemical plant, he’s going to have to face the music from the Moreau leadership, as well as from his teammates - turning an ordinary human into a pretzel is bad optics. The reactions from the various community leaders are going to be mixed - the otter brothel-owner will at least understand where he was coming from.

Madam Lil: Don’t get caught doing it, or if you do get caught at least make it look like an accident.

She has a point. Attempting to put somebody’s head up their own ass is hard to pass off as an accident, even if they’re Reed Richards.

Scooter makes his way to the Collar Club to drink heavily, which is probably a waste of time since his Constitution is superhumanly high. At least the word of what Scooter did isn’t out in the rumour mill, since he didn’t actually kill anybody (magical healing is a useful thing) and nobody is inclined to bother the guy who used to be the club bouncer, when he has never been seen to drink heavily before. Fireflash would probably be off drinking somewhere too, if that wouldn’t be a different problem.

Hardlight: Surely she’s old enough now?
GM: Nope. Old enough to die for her country, not old enough to drink.

UNTIL is going to have to be called in to deal with a terrorist weapon like this - and to Gareth’s dismay, they recruit his rival Centurion into the effort. His powersuit has full environment capabilities, for two people, and a water cannon.

Eventually Scooter rings Fireflash and mutters what is probably the best apology she’s going to get. Hopefully that means we can have actual team meetings again, such as one about the pair of former sunbeds that got dropped off to Bat-Moreau and former team member Allana/Nocturne, with the note "one for you and one for your friends associates". Apparently they’ve been altered to read and display auras, for medical purposes.

Nocturne: Now we just have to figure out how they work.
Flux: Well, plug it in over there and we’ll screw around.
Hero Shrew: ‘F*** around and find out.’
Flux: All we need is a test subject… hmm. Hey, Hardlight, we have a new sunbed for you.
Nocturne: ‘Most of it is cool blue and then there’s a vortex of doom in your neck.’
Hardlight: Well, I know about THAT.

Hero Shrew: Well, I’m game *climbs in, then grabs Flux’s wrist* We ARE sure this wasn’t sent by a supervillain, right?
Flux: Could you grab Allana’s wrist instead? If you have an involuntary muscle spasm her hand won’t go bye-bye.
GM: That would give Nocturne a chance to try out her flesh regenerator.
Nocturne: It doesn’t work on bones.

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aye aye captain

Pathfginder: The Mummy's Mask : How To Win Friends And Influence People

Despite nearly dying in an assortment of horrible ways, we DO unbox somebody who’s been stuck down here for thousands of years, and for SOME reason (can’t think why) is a bit upset with the Sky Pharoah.

Jeshura: Hakotep's lapdogs! All of the sky pharoah's underlings will die a thousand times over before I am done!
Nemat: In the name of Wadjet BE QUIET!

Zenobia attempts to Banish her, helped by the fact that Onka was still wearing the Mummy’s Mask, and Banishment is assisted if you are wielding something the target hates, fears or opposes.

Nemat: Just grab Onka by the back of his head and push him forward!
Onka: Oi!

Although there IS an anguished scream from somewhere to the south as Jeshura vanishes. Onka suspects she got got by an anti-teleportation trap. She’s still out there somewhere, but not in this chamber.

Nemat: That’s frustrating, but funny.
Zenobia: A problem for Future Zenobia.

It turns out that being released from a sarcophagus after a few thousand years, and a few seconds later being magically stuffed into another cell, has broken her. She throws herself on our mercy. We do our best to talk her around to our point of view.

Zenobia: Before… before I became what I am today, I was a monster. Of a race of monsters. My kind did... Unspeakable things. But through Sarenrae I was given a second chance. And in redeeming myself I have found true friends, a true chance to build, to protect, and to heal. We seek to cast down the works of the Sky Pharoah - if you help us do that, it will go a long way to purging yourself of your past sins.

Nemat makes her swear an oath to assist us, and disables the enchantments on the cell, and Zenobia helps her to her feet.

Zenobia: Come sister - we have much to do.

GM: So now you’ve picked up another GM NPC for me to worry about - well done.
Zenobia OoC: The subtitle for this campaign should be How To Win Friends And Influence People.

Admittedly, Zenobia’s fiancée is a bit put out. Not only because of her own personal history with Divs.

Asrian: If she ever takes your pants down I’m cutting off everything you’ve got.
Zenobia: … fair enough.

It’s probably really unfortunate that Jeshura resurrected herself in the form of a Pairaka back before she got stuck in the sarcophagus - Pairakas are an embodiment of corruption and disease that sabotage the relationships and links that make up a community. They specialize in manipulating human sexuality and taboo desires. There are going to be soap opera shenanigans in the near future, even with Jeshura’s magical oath to follow the path of redemption. At least she was a close associate of Hakotep I back in the day, so her insider knowledge is going to be invaluable. While Asrian is working on a series of magically locked doors, Zenobia helps with Jeshura’s modesty with some spare clothes, and Nemat’s Sleeves of Many Garments. Although given that Pairakas have a permanent Shape Change going, to conceal their grotesquely diseased natural form, it probably isn’t strictly necessary.

Then we get spotted by a bunch of patrolling animal-headed constructs.

GM: Jeshura thinks very hard about betraying all of you, but doesn’t.

Onka: I’m sure our leader would spot an illusion.
Nemat: Wait, what? Since when was I the leader? When was this decided?
Onka: Everybody that wants to vote Nemat as leader, hands up.
Zenobia: I thought we were an anarcho-syndicalist collective.

The floor is one room is suspiciously covered in sand. Zenobia attempts to prevent any surprises by repaving the entire room with Stone Shape.

Nemat: AHAHAHA. That’s brilliant - Zenobia, re-tile it.
Onka: ‘Why do we hear tiny screams?’ ‘Oh, that’s the elemental under the floor’ ‘Help Meeeee’

Helpfully, the next bunch of burial chambers include plenty of evidence of the moral character of those interred. And plenty of quite nasty traps to disable as well.

Asrian: I’m starting to feel less bad about violating their final resting places.

Although, since Asrian is the one attempting to disable each trap, Zenobia is rapidly developing an anxiety disorder.

Nemat: That’s the equivalent of eating the seat of someone’s soul.
Onka: Pretty bad then?
Nemat: The blackest of necromantic acts. So we’re not doing that.
GM: The option is still there.
Nemat: The option is still there for me to beat you around the head with my morning star.
Onka: So what I’m hearing is ‘Don’t Get Caught’.

Unfortunately one of the chambers is such a challenge to the wit and sensibilities of half of the party that we linger a little too long, despite the angles of the room being distinctly non-euclidean.

GM: I’ll give you a choice - do you want to face more animal-headed constructs, or Hounds of Tindalos?

Zenobia uses another Stone Shape to trap the regenerating monsters in their alcoves.

Asrian: And now they’re stuck in there forever, or at least until some future archeologist says “I’ve read there were animal-headed constructs in this tomb, but clearly they are mythical - pass me that sledgehammer.”
Zenobia: We might want to paint a warning on that wall.
Nemat: No-one will pay attention! Do we? Well, we do, usually, but not ALL the time!

Onka Summons a pair of Aurochs to trample the surviving construct flat, which admittedly isn’t out-of-character for an Auroch or for that matter most large herbivores, who really don’t need an excuse.

GM: The Black Djinn stands and greets you politely.
Zenobia: That makes a change.
Black Djinn: I’ve been waiting for you, tomb-robbers - is it time for our final battle.
Onka: All together now -
All: We’re not tomb-robbers, we’re archeologists.
Black Djinn: Either I will slay you or you will slay me - I accept either resolution.
Zenobia: I DO have one more Banishment saved up for today…
Nemat: Option Three it is then.

Unfortunately, since she’s Bound to the complex, she ain’t going anywhere. Worse, since Black Djinn hate religion and especially hate good gods, Zenobia is right at the top of the list of ‘People To Be Bisected’. Happily Asrian and Nemat are willing to throw themselves in the way, with Onka and Jeshura in the rear ranks - just as well, since some of the prayers Zenobia can wield would do bad things to the half-orc and the Pairika.

Onka was born in the jungles south of Osiria, and is familiar enough with the ruins of the Shory cities there to note something odd about the Djinn’s model city - the skyline is wrong. Nemat gets very excited, and uses the Automatic Cartographer to make a copy, and runs out to consult Tef-Naju. He doesn’t recognise it or the puzzle. Jeshura, on the other hand WAS a Shory, and instantly realises what needs to be slid around to make the model match reality. Some rather valuable stuff is revealed, although hopefully we won’t need to use the Oil of Life that was in the cache as well. Some stairs leading to the Sun Disc activation area are also convenient to hand. Nemat is quite glad he can put the maps we’ve been making away - they were getting a bit large and awkward. We can finally activate the Slave Trenches! Arcane electricity flickers and dances through the complex and between the hundreds of obelisks!

Asrian OoC: We finally have the Iludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

But it looks like it will take a while for them to warm up. After well over 24 hours of running around, trying to set up the complex before it all shuts done again, we can finally level up in time for the Final Boss Fight. Asrian casts Restful Sleep on the party to ensure we’re all at our best for when the pyramid arrives.

Zenobia: Time for Snuggling!

GM: Near sunset, you see a pyramid flying towards your position, over the dunes. It’s quite a bit larger than the last one. And the moment it has line of sight, it opens fire on the Sun Disc.
Zenobia: Well, crap. *dives for cover*

Onka, on the other hand, can use Nemat’s suggestion of the spell Wall of Split Illumination to stop the beam. It doesn’t stop at least four Ossumentals from sweeping in from the rest of the Slave Trenches. This is less than ideal. They are powerful, difficult to destroy, and intent on smashing the Sun Disc before the pyramid smashes itself on the ground. Happily, Zenobia and her teammates are capable of some useful new prayers and spells now. Such as Sunbeam, which against undead is practically an anti-tank laser cannon, if you used one against ranks of infantry.

Zenobia: The Dawnflower is with us, today :)
aye aye captain

Pathfinder : The Mummy's Mask : The Scent Of Burning Feathers

Nemat’s Player: Apparently we’ve missed a lot of stuff in this campaign because we actually talk to people. And aren’t psychopaths.
Onka’s Player: It’s like we actually get paid to do our job - archeology.
Zenobia’s Player: Although I don’t think we’ll be returning some of this stuff to the people that made them - under any circumstances.

On the way to the final activation point, we nearly have a major dust-up between a Phoenix, a Roc, and a Sphinx land on top of us. A feather-dust-up, as it were.

Nemat: Onka? Fireball that.

It’s a good idea - it’s not like the Phoenix will be hurt by the fire and it’s clearly outnumbered by the other two monsters. Zenobia has a few helpful spells along that line too - it’s so helpful when divine destruction can make moral judgements on your behalf. Before long the Phoenix is actually intervening on the Sphinx’s behalf before we finish it off.

Nemat to the Sphinx: Are you going to be a problem?
Sphinx: *feeble squawk*

Onka is heading over to the roast Roc.

Onka: I don’t think we have a big enough bag for this.

Actually, after he clambers all over the corpse, and marinades it with Unguent of Timelessness, he actually manages to stuff the entire thing into a Bag of Holding.

Onka: It belongs in a museum.
Zenobia: We’ll have it stuffed.
Nemat: Hire some taxidermists. Emphasis on the plural.

The Sphinx recoils from the Phoenix’s healing touch, hisses ”Our deal is finished - we are EVEN” and flaps off back to its clock.

The Phoenix had come to investigate why the magic around the Slave Trench had suddenly lit up like Las Vegas.

Nemat: Oh, that’s just us - we’re about to crash a pyramid here. At least, I think it’s going to be here. Onka, before we flip the final switch we’d better check that. If you’ve read any of the accounts of the Fall of the Shory you have to think about these kinds of things. Some of those mountain ranges over there didn’t exist before then.

The Roc was upset by the Slave Trenches activating, and the Sphinx was just a dick.

Tef-Naju and the Phoenix can’t help us in the next section - the latter won’t fit, and the former has been barred from ever entering the area. Onka can’t even get his mecha-suit in. We’re on our own from here. And some of the traps are very cunning indeed.
aye aye captain

Champions : Return To Edge City : Scooter vs. The Human Pretzel

A warning in advance - events in this episode have been planned months in advance, and it's total coincidence that they happened the same week that the protests kicked off in the States. The parallels certainly upset some of the players, but were not intentional.

The Magus has used a spell to locate the salvaged Black Smoke Projector, and tracked it to Bayside Industrial, an area of Edge City that boomed before the whole ‘fusion reactor went BOOM’ situation on S-Day, and now has lots of derelict chemical storage facilities and abandoned warehouses.

Hero Shrew: Well, just as long as it isn’t Axis Chemicals.

Hero Shrew is quite pleased, since he’ll probably get to punch somebody, something he hasn’t had a chance to do in months. Better yet, they’re Humanity First, planning a terror attack with chemical weapons, so he can hit them as hard as he likes and still have the moral high ground. Grabbing them by the heads and introducing them to the concept of autocolonoscopy might be going a bit far, though.

GM: Just don’t punch them into the chemical weapon.
Flux’s Player: They might have 30 character points to spend and come back as a supervillain.

On the other hand, at least Scooter is forward-thinking enough today to ask how long fire sprinklers actually run for, once they’re set off. And most of them are mechanically triggered, so Flux can’t set them off with his hacking magic. Worse, since it’s a chemical warehouse it’s entirely possible the fire suppression isn’t even water based, which will be no help at all if the Black Smoke Generator goes off.

Watching the building lets us see that they have guards patrolling, and that their patrol patterns are annoyingly competent. Not that it matters much, since some of us can fly while invisible, and Scooter can tunnel through solid concrete. Complicated plans are made to synchronise and navigate the prongs of the attack.

Magus: Alternatively, I can teleport us all in.
All: *turn to look at him*
Hardlight: You can do that???
Magus: I was waiting for that >:)

On the other hand, the tracking spell is telling us that the Black Smoke Generator is somehow filling the entire chemical production facility. Which is EXTREMELY worrying, since it implies they’re making the stuff. We should probably tell the police to turn up with full breathing apparatus, or better yet stay well back and send in firefighters with same, and all hoses going. Since the building was used for making industrial spray-painting equipment and paint, we’d better make sure to avoid anybody carrying some kind of backpack or pushcart compressor.

Unfortunately Hardlight IS injured by the Magus’ teleport, since he’s susceptible to unnatural darkness, and he lost his connection to the crystal that gives him his powers. Nonetheless, the mook we appear next to is about to have a Very Bad Day.

Hero Shrew: Let’s hope that employment by Humanity First offers good Dental.

It looks like Humanity First have at least one supermerc on the books, and a number of early-model powersuits with in-built threat analysis. That might be a problem, if punching them through walls as soon as we see them doesn’t work.

Breaker: Oh ****! *goes for his guns*
Flux: Right, targeting him - Always go for the talkie ones first.

The Magus drops his target into an illusionary Hero Trip, where us superhuman freaks just can’t hit him. That should keep him busy, even though the powersuited guy had some kind of unexpected mental defence. Quite a surprise in somebody that should just be an armoured mook. Evidently Humanity First went to the trouble of giving these guys special training, but they have been planning to fight metahumans for decades. Which probably explains how a basic unarmoured mook manages to put Scooter on the ground, even though the Moreau was rushing forward at full speed with the intent of knocking his head off.

The powersuits also have flight capability.

GM: And probably flamethrowers.
Magus OoC: Next to the swastika ninja-stars.

GM: Mook 3 is going to have bragging rights in prison, since it took two of the supers to take him down. Unfortunately it wasn’t Fireflash and Nocturne.

Or more likely won’t survive to boast, because Hero Shrew has no particular inclination to hold back, and his forcefield fails to activate both times.

Hero Shrew OoC: It’s ironic that this guy is against Moreaus, since I’m about to turn him from plantigrade to digitigrade. By putting some extra bends his legs.

Hardlight is certainly upset, since he has a total Code vs. Killing, and turning a human into a pretzel is rarely conducive to their health.

Hardlight: Scooter, NO!!!!
Flux: Welp, they’ve just murdered somebody over there - I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that.

That does take Hardlight out of the fight, though, since Gareth spends the rest of it trying to stop Mook 3 from bleeding out from his numerous open fractures. It’s probably fortunate that Fireflash can’t see what happened over there either, although she does hear Hardlight yelling for medical assistance from the Magus.

GM: The forcefield belts that the Mooks are using are the same model VIPER used to use. They stopped using them for a couple of reasons. One of them was the position of the powercell. ‘You weren’t planning on having kids, right?’. They weren’t quite that bad but the rumour was bad enough. The other reason was that the charge on the batteries meant that if someone like Scooter did something like what Scooter just did, the paramedic that showed up to stop them bleeding out couldn’t help them because the forcefield was still running. So in that respect it’s sort of okay that the forcefield didn’t actually turn on?
Magus: On the other hand, if they DID produce exotic radiation, they’ve increased their chances of having superpowered kids.

The mooks at the gate and on patrol leg it as soon as they realise the heavies and mooks in the warehouse aren’t reporting in. Hardlight bubbles Scooter before he can find any more racists to mangle. Scooter IS looking rather more intently serious than they’ve seen him before. He and Fireflash get into a screaming match - these a**holes WERE intending to murder everybody he grew up with, after all.

Hardlight: Scooter, when you signed up with this team you agreed to help the people of Edge City. ALL the people. Yes, these people are awful, but that means we take them into custody and put them through a court of law. What you just did was lethal force against an unarmed opponent. That is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Fireflash flies off, sobbing, but Scooter does not seem remotely chastised. At least securing the Black Smoke, which had been decanted into individual sprayers to reduce the chance that Humanity First would accidentally kill any humans, is straightforward enough. It’s certainly enough to get everybody charged with multiple terrorism offenses.

Fireflash: Well, I hope they enjoy their time in Guantanamo Bay.

But there are going to be consequences from the fight. He’s lost Fireflash’s trust for one thing. And then there’s the fallout from when The Rep finds out what Scooter did.

The Rep: Scooter, it doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, it’s the optics, baby. You’re the face of Moreaus. If you kill a human. Moreaus. Kill. Humans.
The Magus OoC: The worst part of it is that you’re being told off by a sleaze.
Scooter OoC: Yeah, that might actually make me feel bad.
aye aye captain


#1620 - Musgraveia sulciventris - Bronze Orange Bug

Photo by Kerri Faull.

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t covered these guys, or apparently anything from their entire family, before. They’re quite a common backyard pest of citrus in Eastern Australia, and the Tessaratomidae are large and often colourful bugs (although the heads are disproportionately small).

One lemon tree can be carrying hundreds, if you don’t go out and pluck them off by hand. Gloves and probably a face mask are a must - they defend themselves by spraying alkanes, cimicine and aldehydes.

Bronze Orange Bugs grow up to an inch long, but start of as translucent, very flat green nymphs, and grow to be bright orange nymphs. The common name, however, refers to the colour of the adult, and their frequent diet.


Photo by William John‎, with the note “Can you smell a stinkbug? I asked the wife. Brushed my hair and this stinky little guy drops onto the floor. Serves me right for pinching some lemons off the neighbours tree.”


Photo by Pat Stewart.

#1621 - Danaus petilia - Australian Lesser Wanderer

Photo by Carly Waller, in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.

Another of Australia’s Danaus sp. - It’s a little surprising that the Monarch D. plexippus managed to get established over here when we already had the other species ready to chow down on the same milkweed hostplants. 

The Australian Lesser Wanderer used to be considered a subspecies of the D. chrysippus or Lesser Wanderer, which is found across much of the tropics and has at least one breeding population in Australia, but our species is found across the entire country, as well as in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.


Photo by John Tann

#1622 - Aulocophora sp. - Pumpkin Beetle

Photos by Michelle Knight, in Blackall, Queensland. She wanted to know what was devouring her pumpkins. 

Aulocophora is a large genus found in Africa, Asia and Australasia, but despite the common name their diet includes melons, gourds, cucumbers, and other curcubits. Adults eat the leaves, and the larvae burrow into the roots, and as you can probably guess they’re a serious pest. Most species are orange and black. 

#1623 - Anthela basigera - Western Toothed Anthelid

Photos by Wayne Jeffree in Galga, South Australia. 

Anthela basigera is superficially similar to Anthela denticulata, Anthela euryphrica, and Anthela oressarcha, but the four species occur in four different areas of the country - despite the common name this one is not found in Western Australia, but in the southern and south-eastern states. 

The larvae feed on various grass species, and are black, with white verrucae, pairs of blue spots along the back, and reddish spots along the sides, and large amounts of white, black and red hair.

#1624 - Saptha libanota

Photo by Benedicte Whitfield‎ in the Cairns Botanical Gardens, Northern Queensland.

AKA Tortyra sybaritis

One of the Metalmark Moths, (Fam. Choreutidae). This particular species is native to Papua New Guinea and northern Queensland, but the foodplant and caterpillar are unknown to science. Other Metalmark species are are known to skeletonise plant leaves, and a few are minor pests. 

Metalmarks are often day-flying, and those in the genus Brenthia have eyespots on the wings and are thought to mimic jumping spiders.

aye aye captain

#1619 - Chorista sp Scorpionfly


‎Spoted by Ros Runciman‎ in Dungog Common (New South Wales).

Quite an exciting observation, at least to me - Australia has very odd scorpionflies, some of which are the only surving members of very old families, and many of them are very poorly known.

Over here in Western Australia I see the larger Harpobittacus or Hangingfly species fairly often, and their behaviour is pretty well known. The Nannochoristidae, on the other hand, are a tiny Gondwana relict family of about eight species, in New Zealand, southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and Chile, and have wireworm-like aquatic larvae, uniquely with true compound eyes (unlike the larvae of any other insect). The Meropeidae or Forcepflies are even worse off, with only three species that have survived since the breakup of Pangaea - one in North America, one here in SW Australia, and one in Brazil. We have no idea where the larvae live, look like, or eat. 

But the one in the photo above is from the Choristidae family.  The eight species in three genera are found only in Australia, and all we know is that their larvae are found in moss beds. 

aye aye captain

#1616-1618 - Some More Lepidoptera

#1616 - Rapala varuna - Indigo Flash

Spotted in his yard in Russell’ Yong‎ in inner suburban Brisbane, Queensland. 

Russell and his housemates are all scientists, and they’d been going slightly stir-crazy thanks to the virus situation. So they decided to catalogue every single species that they could find in their yard, in the  #StayHomeBiodiversityChallenge. This was the fifth species of Lycaenid to show up in the first fortnight. As of April 22nd the total species count was up to 400 species, with over a third of them lepidoptera.

Anyway, the Indigo Flash is found in Queensland are across SE Asia, where the caterpillars feed on the flowers and shoots of various species Pongam ( Pongamia pinnata, FABACEAE ), Siris ( Albizia lebbeck, MIMOSACEAE ), Millaa Millaa ( Elaeagnus triflora, PROTEACEAE ), Red Ash ( Alphitonia excelsa, RHAMNACEAE ), Loquat ( Eriobotrya japonica, ROSACEAE ), and Lychee ( Litchi chinensis, SAPINDACEAE ). Despite the wide diet the caterpillars are also cannibalistic, attacking each other and the pupae of other indivuals. They may explain why the mother only lays one egg per plant. 

#1617 - Austrocaligula loranthi -  Mistletoe Emperor Moth

Formerly known as Antheraea loranthi. Spotted by Toby Greig in Bendemeer, New South Wales. They’re also found inall other Australian states, with the exception of Western Australia.

As you can probably guess from both the common and scientific names, the caterpillars of these enormous moths feed exclusively on Mistletoe. They start off yellow and black, and later turn orange and black, and later still green (as here) or brown. The pupate in a large hairy cocoon, often in a cluster of cocoons on the main stem of their host plant, or any neaby object.

#1618 - Eudocima fullonia - Fruit Piercing Moth

There’s certainly been an absolute flood of Fruit-piercing Moths - adults and caterpillars -  in the FB group I admin. It must be a very good year for Achaea and Eudocima species up in Queensland, if you get them mobbing oranges and fighting among themselves for access to unattended beercans. 

Anyway, this particular caterpillar was spotted by Ashleigh Miller‎ at the Sunshine Coast. The diet of the caterpillars includes the Coral Tree, and various vines in the unrelated Menispermaceae. The adults are an absolute menace to fruit, including Bananas,Lychees, and Longans, piercing the rind with their strong proboscis in order to suck the juice. The hole allows the entry of fungi and bacteria which cause the fruit to rot prematurely.The moth feeds at night, and can only be kept away from your fruit trees with the use of fine-mesh netting. Light traps are useless, as this species is not attracted to light.

The adult moths have mottled fawn forewings, and vivid yellow, black and orange markings on the hindwings and underwings. The also have small blue patches in the labial palps, but you need a good close-up of the head to see that.  

The species occurs in Asia and across the Pacific from Hawaii to New Zealand and the warmer, wetter parts of Australia. 

aye aye captain


#1611 - Glyphipterix cyanochalca - Blue and Copper Sedge Moth

Photos by John Lenagan, in Angelsea, Victoria, who had put a few light traps out to see what moths he could attract during quarentine.

 At least I assume cyanochalca means “dark blue” and “copper” - I couldn’t find the official etymology. 

The Sedge Moth family Glyphipterigidae has about 500 known species worldwide, where most eat sedges and rushes. This particular species in found in the SE states. 

#1612 - Glyphipterix chrysoplanetis

Another tiny sedge moth, known to be associated with the weeping grass Microlaena stipoides.  Ute Harder de Sohnrey, who keeps finding these moths in his yard in the Gold Coast Hinterland, has plenty of that grass, but the moths themselves just seem to hang out near the Lobelia purpurascens flowers. That seems to be common to many sedge moths, during daylight. 

This species is found in most Australian states,

#1613 - Agathia distributa

AKA  Agathia disconnecta. Photo by Brad Callcott in Ayr, Queensland.

One of the Emerald Loopers, found in Quieensland, but I don’t have any information on diet. 

#1614 - Porismus strigatus

A strikingly marked species of Osmylid lacewing found in the southeastern states of Australia. Like other members of the family Porismus strigatus is probably a predator, supplementing their diet with pollen. On the other hand, the vividly marked wings are highly unusual for any lacewing.

#1615 - Theretra oldenlandiae - Impatiens Hawk Moth

Photo by Kye Boyson in Mullumbimby NSW.  AKA taro hornworm or white-banded hunter hawkmoth,

Despite the common name, this hawkmoth also eats native grapes (which was the case here) as well as a wide range of other plants. In captivity they do quite well on lettuce. 

First described by Fabricius in 1775.

This is a younger instar - as the age the yellow spots become more subtle, and it develops bands of white speckles around and along the body. The horn on the tail remains quite slender though, and waves like a metronome as it walks. The adult is brown with pale stripes running down to the tips of the wings, and down the middle of the back. They’re found over most of Australia and SE Asia. 

aye aye captain

#1606 - 1610

#1606 - Lycid Larva

Sent to me from Moruya, on the NSW South Coast, via Troy Booth. 

A very odd beetle larva, with pointed feet and a head that doesn’t even look like it belongs on this planet. Possibly Ceti Alpha V.  I’d initially thought it was a firefly larva, and got very excited, but I was corrected on the ID, since the related Lycidae family have very similar larva and a more scorched appearance. 

It’s not clear what Lycid larvae eat - some sources say they’s predators, and other says fungi or rotting wet wood. In at least some species the larvae will gather together en mass before they pupate, and pupate inside their last larval skin. 

#1607 - Phallus indusiatus - Veiled Stinkhorn

AKA bamboo mushrooms, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn or veiled lady. 

Submitted to Amateur Entomology Australia by John Or at the Arnhem Nursery, Northern Territory. He actually wanted an ID for the Banana-stalk fly sitting on the mushroom. 

The species is found in tropical areas worldwide, growing in rich soil and well-rotted woody material.  It’s grown commercially for Asian cuisine, as well as being used in Chinese medicine since at least the 8th Century, and features in folk beliefs in many cultures - some based on the shape, and others on the smell it uses to attract flies to the greenish spore mass on the tip. 

#1608 - Testacella sp. - Shelled Slug

Found in his garden in Sydney, by Jay Tan. It turned up in one of his garden beds, while he was digging it up, and he noticed it didn’t look like his usual garden slugs. He was quite right.

Austalia has two families of native air-breathing slugs, but a wide varietyof introduced species, including these guys that I’ve never seen before. Testacella, the only genus in the Testacellidae, is distinguished from other slugs by the small ear-shaped shell down near the tip of the tail. The shape of the shell also gave the species T. haliotidea its name, for the same reason that the ear-shaped marine snails known as abalone are in the family Haliotidae.  Australia also has Semi-slugs, but in that native family the shell is near the middle of the body and half covered in flaps of flesh.

Shelled slugs are native to the western Mediterranean, and up along the Atlantic coast, into Great Britain. It’s also found in other parts of Europe, and has been introduced to parts of New Zealand, Australia, and North America, but distribution data is uncertain because the slug spends nearly all its time underground, agily hunting and devouring earthworms. 

Jay was quite glad he didn’t put it back in his garden bed. 

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aye aye captain


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#1602 - Cephonodes kingii - Gardenia Bee Hawk Moth

One of the most frequent species I’m asked to ID on Amateur Entomology Australia, after mole crickets, antlion adults, and Endoxyla sp. Cossid Moths. Given that the moth is actually quite rare, that’s a little surprising, but it IS a spectacular moth, and at least once this century it went through a local population explosion around Sydney.

This one was photographed by Sheena Shephard in Gloucester, NSW, and she was rightly very pleased to see it grow from caterpillar to adult. This species feeds on Gardenias, including Australia’s native species, but is also found on Wild Lemon ( Canthium oleifolium ), Australian Native Myrtle ( Canthium attenuatum ), and other Canthiums, and Butterfly Bush ( Pavetta australiensis ). If the caterpillars are too crowded, they may eat each other. If threatened, the caterpillars arch back and regurgitate a green fluid. 

The caterpillars pupate under the the ground if it is soft enough, or among leaf litter if not.

Bee Hawk Moths emerge from their pupa with dull green scales on the wings, but these soon fall off, leaving most of the wing transparent. 

#1603 - Harmonia testudinaria - Tortoiseshell Ladybird

Photo by Jen Brown in South West Rocks, NSW. 

Reasonably common along the east coast, but more so further north, and also found in New Guinea and Indonesia. Most individuals have thicker net-like markings, but it’s just as well this one was found here in Australia - as you move up into Asia there’s 6-7 genera and many species that look very similar.

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