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#1501-1510 - Another Assortment

#1501 - Philomastix sp. - Two-tailed Sawfly
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Photo by Jason Dix, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Probably Philomastix xanthophilus, the Red Ash or Bramble Sawfly, but all the larvae in the genus have two tails.

Philomastix sawflies are short and stout, and lay their eggs on the underside of the hostplant’s leaves. But they do it by cutting a hole in the top of the leaf, and gluing the egg in place afterwards. They then spend the rest of their life standing guard over the eggs and younger larvae, rattling their otherwise useless wings to scare off predators and parasitoids.



#1502 - Agarista agricola - Joseph’s Coat Moth
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Found by Kerry Gardeniers in the town of 1770 in Queensland.

Joseph’s Coat moths are remarkably colourful Noctuids native to Papua and north and eastern Australia, where they eat various plants in the grape family. They start off with mostly black and white bands, as in the photo by Phil Mcintyre below, and switch to entirely orange and black as they get older. 

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When they’re ready to build a cocoon they spend hours chewing up small pieces of bark as camouflage, as they build the cocoon along a branch.

Then they emerge as this. 

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#1503 - Gnathothlibus eras - Australian White-browed Hawk Moth
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Another photo by Kerry Gardeniers in the Queensland town of 1770. They wanted to know if it was the adult of the tigerpillar posted prior to this one. It isn’t.

Gnathothlibus eras (formerly known as Deilephila eras) is a sphinx moth known from Java eastward through Sulawesi, the Moluccas, the Philippines, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Micronesia and eastern Australia, where the caterpillars eat sweet potato, grapes, and a wide variety of other plants. It used to be considered a subspecies of Gnathothlibus erotus, the white-brow hawkmoth , which is found over much the same region as well as India and out to Pitcairn Island, but DNA evidence proved otherwise.

The caterpillars start off green or pale brown, and can defend themselves by regurgitating unpleasant fluids and squeaking.



#1504 - Codakia rugifera - Wrinkled Codakia
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Aka the  ridged lucine. 

Native to SE Australian shores, but for some reason all but two of the records at ALA are limited to the New South Wales coastline.

Lucinid bivalves live in muddy sand or gravel at or below low tide mark, and like this example have rounded shells with forward-facing projections, etched with concentric rings. They do not have siphons, but the extremely long foot makes a slime-lined channel for the intake and expulsion of water.

Lucinids are also remarkable for their symbiosis with sulphur-reducing bacteria, hosted in specialized gill cells called bacteriocytes. The bivalve pumps sulfide-rich water over its gills and the bacteria use the sulphur to carbon into organic compounds, which are then transferred to the host as food.

Lucinid bivalves originated in the Silurian but did not diversify until the late Cretaceous, when seagrasses and mangroves evolved and provided much larger areas of sulphur-rich sediment. They’re pretty good for the seagrasses, too, since the lucinid-symbiont holobiont removes toxic sulfide from the sediment, and the seagrass roots provide oxygen to the bivalve-symbiont system.

In at least two species of Lucinid, the symbionts are also able to fix nitrogen gas into organic nitrogen.

Little Bay, Sydney, New South Wales



#1505 - Ephutomorpha sp. - Velvet Ant
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Small parasitoids of burrowing insects, with wingless females often with a powerful sting. I have no idea which exact species this one is, since quite a few have similar markings and the taxonomy is a mess at the moment anyway.

North Dandalup, SE of Perth. 



#1506 - Smaridid Red Predatory Mite
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Spotted running around at high speed in the undergrowth at the Dryandra Woodlands, out in the WA Wheatbelt.

Smaridids are red and densely hairy like a number of other families in the large Order Trombidiformes, but can be distinguished by shape and the size of the snout, among other features. They may have two or four eyes



#1507 - Spondyliaspidine Psyllid
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One of the Jumping Plant Lice, very common in Australian Eucalyptus bushland, where their nymphs build intricate shelters out of sugar, called ‘lerps’. 

Dryandra Woodland, SE of Perth out in the Wheatbelt



#1508 - Scaraphites sp. Ground Beetle
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Spotted by Rob Middleton at Mount Lesueur. Mt Lesueur is a near-circular, flat-topped mesa near Jurien Bay 220km  north of Perth, and is an area of AMAZING plant diversity.

It also has these rather amazing predatory beetles, up to 5cm long. They live underground, or in broad tunnels under rocks or logs that dig shovel-like front legs. They’re mainly nocturnal, hunting other invertebrates that are easily dispatched with their fearsome jaws. They’ll also carve up kangaroo scat, presumably seeking insect larvae. The seven species of Scaraphites are reasonably common in suitable habitat, preferring sandy heathland.



#1509 - Calligrapha pantherina - Sida Leaf Beetle
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Photo by Ren Field, who found it at Mt Garnet in Queensland.

A Leaf Beetle introduced from Mexico in 1989 to control the common wireweed (Sida acuta) and the arrowleaf sida (Sida rhombifolia). Since it worked quite well here, it’s also been introduced to Papua, Fiji and Vanuatu. Unfortunately, since then it made its own way to New Caledonia, which has native Sida species.



#1510 - Agathia pisina
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AKA Agathia asteria. This is a male - females have larger brown markings

Photo by Hourie Ipradjian in Cairns, Far North Queensland.

This Geometrid is found in Australia, Norfolk Island, and the Solomon Islands, where the caterpillars feed exclusively on Native Rubber Vine, Gymnanthera oblonga. 

Tags: blobs with no bones in, coleoptera (beetles), dwellers in the depths, education even if you don't want it, hemiptera (true bugs), hymenoptera (bees/wasps/ants), lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), mollusc, mollusk, other arthropods
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