Spotted by Jack Moya in Logan, Queensland, where it’s increasingly common in suburban gardens, paddocks and other cultivated areas.
AKA American Brown Slug, and originally native to Brazil and the West Indies, but now found on many Pacific islands including Australia. In fact it was first described from New Caledonia. Also called the Bean Slug since it’s a major pest legume pods and flowers in Central and South America, as well as feeding on the foliage of beans, sweet potato, cabbage, Cucurbita sp., tomato, coffee, and the fruit of papaya. Nurseries growing mahogany and red cedar have also been affected.
This slug can transmit the nematode Angiostrongylus costaricensis, which is pathogenic to humans.
Leatherleaf Slugs are more resistant to drought than most slugs, partly because of their thick leathery skin but also because they can burrow up to meter underground in the dry season.
AKA shotgun fungus or cannonball fungus.
Photo by Tanja Hughes, in Helena Valley, Western Australia, who sent these photos to an entomology group asking which insect had been laying eggs all over her watertank. I immediately IDed them as the spoe capsules of this interesting fungus, especially since the spheres were on the south-facing side of the tank, in the shade, and they’d recently mulched that part of the garden.
Artillery Fungus grows as tiny spherical white or buff fruiting bodies, in mulch, vegetable litter, and dung. Once they mature the fruiting bodies split open at the top, and gradually increase the fluid pressure inside their cells, until it violently turns inside out launching the hard black spore capsule several meters, usually towards light. The spore capsules are obnoxiously sticky, and are a nuisance to home and car owners and landscape maintenance crews.
Photo by Anna Neko, in Bold Park, Perth. Probably Tranes vigorsii, based on location.
Occasionally quite sizable weevils that are one of the specialist pollinators of Macrozamia and Lepidozamia cycads, ancient seed-bearing plants with palm-like leaves. Cycad seeds are quite poisonous, thanks to the effort of cyanobacteria in their roots, but that hasn’t stopped people from collecting them as food (after extensive preparation) because if you’re hungry enough you’ll learn how to eat anything (at least once).
The other specialist pollinator for these Australian plants are thrips in the small three-species genus Cycadothrips. Some of these cycad species utilise only the weevils, or only the thrips, while others use both. The weevils feed on the cones of male plants, and visit the female cones, often in large numbers. There’s some evidence that the female plants use chemical cues to attract the weevils when they’re ready to be pollinated, then drive them off again to avoid damage to the ovules after they’ve been pollinated.
There’s 11 known species of Tranes in the world, and 4 in Australia, which implies that some of them are up to the same kind of work in other parts of the world, for different genera of cycads. I just haven’t got any information on the species overseas.
Two small, knobbly, brown Buprestids, unusual enough that they get their own tribe within the family. There’s only the two species in the genus - X. crocata here in Western Australia, and X. bumanna over on the coast of New South Wales. Crocata means ‘saffron-yellow’, and bumanna is from one of the indigenous languages and means ‘to move the wings’.
The larvae live inside Macrozamia fronds. These two were evidently eager enough to insert more.
Photo by Laurie Dryburgh in Brisbane.
Leptomyrmex ants are found in wet forests and sclerophyll woodlands, and are distinguished from other ants by their excessively long legs. Males like this one even more so. Most species are found in eastern Australia, nearby islands, and one species, oddly, in central Brazil. There are also 20myo fossils from the Dominican Republic.
I can tell this one is a male because the females of the larger species never have wings, even when leaving to find a mate and start a new colony.
Australia’s largest and most fabulous stag beetle, found by Ellie Koci on their veranda in Kuranda in Far North Queensland.
AKA golden, magnificent, Mueller’s and king stag beetle. It was described in 1885, and named after Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, the Victorian Government Botanist at the time. Understandably the official symbol of the Entomological Society of Queensland, since 1973.
Native to wet tropical forests of Queensland and Papua New Guinea, where the larvae feed in wood rotten with fungi. It can take them three years to mature.
Spotted here in Western Australia by Rusti Gardener, which is peculiar because it isn’t known from here. It’s certainly known from parts of the eastern states, but having one show up here is new. There were originally native to the
Mediterranean, but are now found across much of Eurasia, South Africa, parts of North and South America, and New Zealand.
They’re distinctive and fearsome-looking spiders up to 15mm long, with six eyes and overly large fangs, frequently found around houses, but their venom causes itchiness in humans at worst. Smaller animals are in trouble, however. The diet is mostly woodlice, since that’s the most common prey in their habitat, but they’ll attack anything else they encounter whilst hunting, including rival spiders and centipedes.
Photo by Barbara Ryan, at Mt Luke near Toowoomba in Queensland.
AKA Erosia radiata. A Uraniid moth with a wingspan of 2.5cm, from a genus that roll their wings up when resting. Found over large parts of Australia. I don’t have any info on the diet of this species, but one of the others feeds on the underside of the leaves of Canthium coprosmoides, in the Rubiaceae.
Photo by Geoff Hyde, who spotted this fabulous beast prowling around the fruit of a fig tree in Centennial Park, Sydney. Knowing Centennial Park, almost certainly a Port Jackson Fig, but there are 12 other species planted there, including the equally enormous Moreton Bay Fig.
Anyway - Curculio is the Original Weevil, described by Linnaeus in 1758, and that the entire weevil family is named after. Some species drill holes in immature acorns, filberts, and other nuts, and the larva hollows out the fruit until ready to emerge, where there may spend a year or two in the soil before pupating. Since I’m not sure which species this is, I don’t know if it does something similar with figs.