Ants, Ants and more
With favourable weather this summer, various filming projects were
completed. Ants were amongst the popular topics for visiting crews.
A small crew from Korea were interested in the Green Tree Ant -
Oecephylla smaragdina. Using a special fibre optic camera they were
able to get a closer look inside the nests of the aggressive green
tree ants, all without disturbing the nest.
Also working on ants as well as their associated butterfly species
was Rod Eastwood and David Lohman from Harvard University along
with Darlyne Murawaki who was on assignment for National Geographic.
Leaf Insect Survey
After the initial advertising of the Leaf Insect Survey last year,
a number of local residents have reported their sightings. While
some reports led to other insects such as stick insects, katydids
and mantids, some leads were of interest.
At this stage all areas have been investigated where sightings
of leaf insects were reported. No adults were located mostly due
to these inspections taking place too late in the insect season.
Further inspections of these same locations will be undertaken during
the coming season and favourable weather conditions.
In January the survey took us to Mt. Lewis, a previously recorded
area for leaf insect. While Jack had some years ago recorded a specimen
from this area, none were located during this trip. However, five
species of Phasmids (stick insects) were encountered. Only one species
is familiar to us at this stage with further investigations into
the identification of the other specimens is continuing.
We would also like to thank the following groups for their assistance
in advertising our Leaf Insect survey in their newsletters -
· Entomological Society of Queensland
· Land for Wildlife, Nth Qld.
· Envirocare, Nth Qld.
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Bugathon 2002 Competition
With the closure to our Bugathon 2002 competition fast approaching
now is the time to get your entries in. If you haven't started yet,
you still have a few weeks to work but all entries must be received
by 20th July to ensure eligibility. Good Luck!
As the school year gets underway, a good number of northern schools
have taken advantage of our mobile education unit. As always visits
are popular with all age levels and often students will send cards
or letters after a visit to their school. Following are some comments
by students taken from some recently received mail.
MENA CREEK STATE
Today Mrs Hasenpusch came and talked to us about insects. I
found that the burrowing cockroach was very very interesting. 2nd
on the list was the stick insects. 3rd was the praying mantis. 4th
was everything else on the show. I liked the burrowing cockroaches
the best because of how big they got and that they burrow underground.
It has legs like a toe biters claws. - Matt.
Today our class had a visit from Mrs Hasenpusch from the Australian
Insect Farm, Garradunga. We talked about lots of interesting insects,
such as the leaf insect. There were bush cockroaches that clean
up the dead stuff from the bush and they're clean and have no diseases
unlike the household cockroaches. The walking sticks were the most
interesting thing that I found. They are a stick insect but their
bodies can curl up. They have spikes on their back but they aren't
sharp and if you push softly it is all soft and mushy. I really
like the visit because it was fun and interesting. - Jess.
Today Mrs Hasenpusch from the Insect Farm at Garradunga came
and told and showed us the insects that she had. The part that I
liked the best was the Bush Cockroaches. I liked their nice shiny
armour and the way they moved. I also like the scorpion that was
digging its burrow under a rock in its cage. And I learnt stuff
I didn't know about insects. - James.
Today we had a visit by the Australian Insect farm, Mrs Hasenpusch
told us all about the insects. The insect I took most interest in
was the rainforest Wijitti grub. The bird-eating spider was quite
good even though it wasn't an insect. The burrowing cockroaches
weren't my type of insect; I didn't pick one up because their legs
feel like they're bitting you. There was a scorpion in a closed
tank so nobody touched it. - Jacob.
Today Mrs Hasenpusch came from Garradunga to show us some of
her insects. She told us lots of interesting information about heaps
of species of insects. Some stuff that we didn't know and species
that we haven't seen before. It was very interesting and it taught
us lots about the insect farm as well as the insects. Mrs Hasenpusch
also brought some other real live giant cockroaches, stick insects,
mulligrubs, and witchetty grubs. The cockroaches are cleaner than
the normal house cockroaches. She also had lots of dead butterflies
in frames and some of them had 2 different colour wings; she told
us they are half boy and half girl. In the holding part we were
able to hold witchetty grubs, mulligrubs and giant cockroaches.
Other than all that I liked the fluoro coloured Christmas beetles
the best. - Jasmine.
Today Mrs Hasenpusch visited us from the Australian Insect
Farm. She talked to us about spiders, insects and centipedes. In
her informative talk she explained the importance of insects and
how they are different to from other house hold pests. The reason
that insects are a necessity to the environment is that they decompose
remains of dead animals and leaf litter, also the insects are the
most important food source because without them the second order
consumers will have no food and so forth and so forth. Personally
I enjoyed learning about the walking stick insects and how if they
don't mate they can produce eggs. - Regina.
BABINDA STATE SCHOOL
Thank you for coming to our school. I really liked holding the
bush cockroach. I was a bit scared to hold the witchetty grub. At
Cooktown I saw a scorpion. It was very flat. My Dad said it could
jump! This is the second time I've seen a scorpion. - Erin
Thanks for bringing your insects along to show us. We found
out a lot about insects. Your insects were awesome. I have found
and insect for the competition. It is really a white spider. I think
it is a money spider. I found it in my backyard chewing on an orange
moth. You are lucky to work at an Insect Farm. - Tamira
Thank you for bringing your insects to show us (the class) because
we are learning about insects. Thanks for bringing the giant cockroaches
and the scorpions, the beetles and the insects in the jars with
alcohol in it. Thanks for telling us about the insects and for letting
us hold the giant cockroach and the stick insect. - Roderick.
Don't forget, we love to receive your insect project or school
mail for inclusion in upcoming newsletters. You will receive notification
as to when your contribution will be posted on the website.
Send your contributions via email email@example.com;
by mail to
PO Box 26,
or fax on 07 40 633 860.
IN THE LAB
The summer months are always the busiest with adult stock in full
swing. Noticeably, the time spent feeding with most species requiring
fresh food daily.
Beetle species including Cetonids and Lucanids have been out and
mating for most of the summer, so eggs and larva are well underway.
Only one species, Dilocrosis atripennis, is still in pupa stage.
Other species such as Xylotrupes gideon (Rhinoceros beetle) are
all but finished for their mating stage with only few adults remaining.
Mantids have produced oothecas with some females still producing.
All Scorpions, Centipedes and Millipedes having had their offspring
earlier in the season are developing well. Containers of stick insect
eggs rapidly fill the shelves with nymphs emerging at a steady rate.
Continuing with the project for Mr Bruce Weber from the University
of Melbourne. In preparation for breeding, we reared nymph katydid
material supplied by Bruce in August 2001. The aim was to achieve
ova production for use in botanical studies. With the natural elements
of a dry summer upon us, humidification was required to ensure the
health and life span of the stock. Fed on a diet of fresh host plant
plus artificial diet and after some various ova production (enticement)
trials, ova were produced. Ova and remaining adult material has
been forwarded for study use.
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New species - Amauropelma hasenpuschi
Brief taken from "Revisions of Australian ground - hunting spiders:
I. Amauropelma gen. Nov. (Araneomorphae: Ctenidae)" Robert J. Raven,
Kylie Stumkat and Michael R. Gray.
Differs from most other species in the subquadrate shape of the
epigynal plate and from A. bluewater in the relatively larger lateral
horns and the rectanguloid median apophysis with very short 'handle'.
Carapace 3.23 long, 2.46 wide. Abdomen 2.61,1.62 wide.
Colour Carapace light brown with dark bands midlaterally
and narrow black marginal band.
Chelicerae deep reddish brown, legs orange brown
with incomplete dark bands.
Abdomen dorsally pallid with 3 inverted U dark crescents
in posterior half and laterally mottled. Iridescent green sheen
Carapace 3.23 long, 2.42 wide. Abdomen 4.00, 3.08 wide.
Colour Carapace and abdomen almost without pattern; legs
banded and in male.
Distribution and Habitat Known only from rainforest in the
central portion of the Wet Tropics area, northeastern Queensland.
Etymology For Mr Jack Hasenpusch, the collector of some
of the types.
Published: Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement
No. 64: 187-227 (2001)
Third Know Specimen of Castiarina oedemerida
Dr Shelly Barker originally described this species in 1995, from
two specimens Jack collected in 1993. This year while on a research
trip, a single specimen of C. oedemerida was collected. This specimen
was found within 200 metres of the original material. While research
projects are still conducted every year in this area this species
has not commonly been seen. A brief description of this species
Castiarina oedemerida sp. nov.
Head black. Antennae dark blue, Pronotum brown with the following
black markings: medial spot, smaller spot on each side, narrow basal
border, expanded anteriorly on each side. Scutellum black. Elytra
yellow-brown with black markings. Legs dark blue. Hairs silver.
Males 10.0 x 3.5 mm
Remarks This species appears to be an oedemerid mimic as
its colour and pattern are similar to known oedemerid species; the
model is unknown. It is not close to any other known species.
The name is derived from that of the beetle family Oedemeridae.
Published: "Eight New Species of Australian Buprestidae (Insecta:
Coleoptera) by S. Barker. Transactions of the Royal Society of
South Australia (1995)."
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THE BUG FILES -
There are an estimated 2500 species of stick insects recorded worldwide.
In Australia there are just over 100 species formally identified.
More than half of these are found in Queensland. Many new species
are awaiting description, which could add up to an extra 100 species
to the list of Australian stick insect fauna.
Stick insects are amongst Australia's largest species. A Ctenamorpha
species found in the Wet Tropics region has been measured at 300mm
body length with an overall length over 500mm. This is Australia's
largest stick insect.
Usually known for their outstanding camouflage capabilities with
a stick or leaf like appearance, stick insects are very difficult
to see. Such an ability to successfully blend with their environment
helps to conceal them from predators.
All stick insects eat leaves from suitable host (food) plants and
some will even eat flowers or nibble on bark. For some species their
diet consists of many plant species while others are more host plant
specific. Stick insects are mostly nocturnal, often taking refuge
amongst the vegetation during the day.
When it comes to flying, not all stick insects have fully developed
wings. In some species the males are winged, while females can have
insufficiently formed wings and therefore have no flying capability.
Although in a few species the female can fly very well.
Many species of stick insects reproduce sexually with normal pairing
of both sexes. Some species have the amazing ability to reproduce
by parthenogenesis. This refers to the ability of unfertilized eggs
hatching, ensuring the continuation of the species. Chemical signals
released by females known as Pheromones may be important in attracting
a male. Mating usually takes place at night. Under the safety of
darkness there are hopefully less predators active.
Generally harmless, stick insects will react with some form of
defensive mode if disturbed. A few may attempt to bite if handled
roughly while others may slash out with their spiny legs. However,
some species do squirt a defensive substance that may irritate the
eyes and skin.
A most amazing insect found living in the coastal rainforests of
the Wet Tropics region is the Peppermint stick insect, Megacrania
batesi. Classified in the order Phasmatodea, the Peppermint stick
insect is quite unique within the Australian stick insect fauna.
This insect inhabits the complex Mesophyll rainforest areas along
the wet coastal lowlands. Such complex forests have several canopy
layers and are associated with the most fertile soils. These lowland
rainforests contain fan palms, epiphytic ferns, strangler figs and
woody vines. The Peppermint stick insect is restricted to its specific
rainforest type from Mission Beach to Cape Tribulation. A population
is recorded from the Pellew Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
With a range of colour variations this insect is remarkable in
its ability to camouflage. Peppermint stick insects found in the
Mission Beach and Innisfail area are generally a brilliant lime
green. While the populations around the Cape Tribulation area are
a little more colourful from lime green through to shades of aqua
to almost sky blue. During the earlier stages of development the
young may also display dark purple bands across the body. The antennae
and wing buds can be brilliant red.
Peppermint stick insects are unable to fly, even though both sexes
have some wing structure in their adult stage. Males are very slender
with longer wings, which are used to parachute to the ground. Females'
wings are very short.
In individual populations the Peppermint stick insect either reproduces
sexually or by parthenogenesis. Populations found around the Cape
Tribulation region consist of bisexual specimens, while only female
Peppermint stick insects have been recorded from the Mission Beach
and Innisfail areas.
Eggs are camouflaged to suit the immediate environment and can
resemble lumps of sand, soil or pumice (volcanic rock). Eggs are
dropped to the ground while others wedge within the plant growth.
After a period of around 4 months the young stick insects will emerge.
The Peppermint stick insect has developed an efficient defence
mechanism used to deter predators. When disturbed, special prothoracic
glands situated behind the insects head act like small pumps, spraying
a milky substance which has a strong peppermint scent. When produced,
this spray can reach a distance of around 60 cm in any chosen direction.
This defence spray is produced by the more mature Peppermint stick
insects and is very effective on any intruder.
The Peppermint stick insect feeds on the leaves of various species
of native Australian Pandanus plant. Found usually growing close
to the beach the Pandanus plant is easily recognised consisting
of a crown of long narrow leaves that have very sharp spikes along
the edges. Many species have stilt root systems.
Presence of a stick insect is usually evident by fresh chewing
marks on the edge of the leaves. These fresh chew marks will be
green in colour different to the old chew marks, which will be brown
edged. Pandanus plants can be heavily eaten by the Peppermint stick
insect, especially during the favourable breeding seasons when the
crowns of the plants can be totally devastated.
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FOR THIS NEWSLETTER
Copyright 2002 Australian Insect Farm. All Right Reserved.
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Australian Insect Farm
PO Box 26
Ph/Fax: 07 40 633 860