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.
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