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NEWS ARCHIVE

 

AUSTRALIAN INSECT FARM NEWSLETTER
Vol 3 No 1 September 2002 to June 2003

Bringing you all the news from the Australian Insect Farm

This Issue:

*** Welcome
*** Visit to Queensland Museum
*** Savannah Guide School
*** Australian Bananas Go Green
*** Ed Unit visits Croydon School
*** Research News - New Genus Phasmatodea
***In The Lab
*** AIF Property Plant List - Part A
***Bug Files: Run Beetle Run
*** Images For This Issue

WELCOME

A long time between newsletters due to a hectic summer season here at the farm. With new projects finding their time in amongst our usual work, everybody sure looked forward to the winter season when insects and some projects slow down.

Summer brought a cyclone free wet season with continuing drought conditions across most of North Queensland. Cairns region experienced the driest wet season on record in 87 years.

Just 697 mm of rain fell from November to April this year, 1053 mm less than the 1750mm average for the period.

During the last few months it has become easy to see the effect of this long drought on the bush with some areas having trees actually dying due to lack of rain. As the end of June now approaches, still very little rain has fallen.


VISIT TO QUEENSLAND MUSEUM

Work commitments in November took Jack and myself to Brisbane where we spent time at the Queensland Museum. This was my first visit back to the museum since my earlier school days. I found the exhibitions most impressive, as was the Entomological section, which was more than I expected. Unfortunately, more time was spent with work than was planned allowing only a brief look at relevant insect groups of interest in the QM collection.

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SAVANNAH GUIDE SCHOOL LONG WAY, UNDARA

By Jack Hasenpusch In late November Sue and I travelled west to the Undara Larva Tubes. Having been invited to deliver an insect presentation, we packed our insects and headed out to visit our friends at another Savannah Guides School. Having never visited the larva tubes we both looked forward to the experience.

After Jerry Collins officially opened the school, aboriginal elder Ron Richards warmly welcomed us to Ewamian Country. Guest speakers presented informative talks on everything from geology of the area to botany and early settler history.

I came to talk about insects with the aim to familiarise the guides with some of their local species. But due to the drought at the time few insects made their expected appearance. Except for the Giant Northern Double Drummer cicadas that were out in numbers. Walking around the park it was easy to see dozens of empty cicada shells adorning any one of the many gum tree trunks. Such a number of cicadas made for quite an ear piercing sound.

Sue brought along Giant Burrowing Cockroaches, scorpions as well as a collection of preserved insects local to Undara.

The larva tubes were most impressive and to be guided through them by professional interpreters certainly topped off these tours. The sheer magnitude and size of the tubes is difficult to describe and really must be encountered personally. Although the word Undara means 'Long Way' it is only a four-hour drive from Cairns and can be explored by anyone.

Two highlights of our two-day experience at the tubes for myself was the sunset bluff tour where millions of bats made their evening emergence in search of insects to eat. Also the multitudes of kangaroo's and wallabies, which would sit and watch you as they went about their daily browsing.

From the editor: The more I get to travel out to the "Gulf Country" the more I come to admire it and my visit to "Undara" will long be the high-light in travelling out west.

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AUSTRALIAN BANANAS GO 'GREEN'.

Since 1999 Frank and Diane Shiaka of Pacific Coast Eco Bananas have been developing farming techniques that address environmental health whilst still maintaining a viable business.

Through ongoing research, Frank and Diane have developed their own Environmental Management System, which reduces the input of agrochemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Operating under their EMS guidelines farm soil biology has dramatically improved.

Aiming to achieve an overall healthy ecosystem for their farm, Frank and Diane contacted us here at the AIF. After being introduced to their project and inspired by their dedication to develop such environmentally friendly farming techniques, we joined their project in 2001. With regular Entomological Monitoring plus correct Habitat Management many insect species have returned to the property. Through conducting regular baseline surveys we have identified over 200 species to-date. A sample of this list can be found at http://www.eco-banana.com.au/resdev.html.

Taking their product into a competitive market Frank and Diane also developed a unique way for the consumer to recognise their product. Referred to as the 'Red Tip', all bananas produced by Pacific Coast Eco-Bananas are dipped in a bright red food wax, making them easily recognised by the consumer.

Over the past twelve months four more farmers have come to join the 'Eco-Banana Growers Group'. In many cases this required a change in regular farming practices in order to achieve the standards of the Pacific Coast Eco Banana protocol. All farmers have now received full accreditation.

With the awareness for more environmentally friendly farming practices increasing Pacific Coast Eco-Bananas certainly lead the way.

Pacific Coast Eco-Bananas were recently awarded a State Agricultural award for eco-growing protocol and marketing strategies. They have also received the endorsement of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

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MOBILE EDUCATION UNIT VISITS CROYDON SCHOOL

Finishing off a busy term two visiting many northern schools, the Mobile Education unit made a visit to the Croydon State School.

The first time the unit has travelled to Croydon, which is a seven-hour drive west from Innisfail into what is known as the 'Gulf Country'. Croydon is typical savannah country, open scrub predominantly made of eucalypt and melaleuca trees, numbers of kangaroos, black crows and hawks of all sizes.

Visiting the school the next morning we were greeted by the entire school, all 48 students. While the students had morning tea we tended to set up the display that featured a small representative collection of insects local to the Croydon area.

With all students in attendance the morning went fast. Following my introduction to the insects Jack spent time discussing insects in the Croydon area. As usual 'hands-on' proved to be popular with the favourites being Litter bugs, Mulli grubs and Wijitti grubs. With the excitement displayed by the children, all had a good time.

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RESEARCH NEWS

New Genus Phasmatodea - Parapodacanthus hasenpuschorum Brock sp. n.

A brief taken from 'Catalogue of type-material of stick insects housed in the Museum d'histoire naturelle, Geneva, with descriptions of some new taxa (Insecta; Phasmatodea) O. Zompro & P.D. Brock

Adults
Attractive leaf green and brown, medium sized insect of glossy appearance, with four pairs of large spine-like tubercles on mesonotum and dark pink alae.

Description
Male - Head slightly longer than wide. Genae green with a narrow dark brown band. Eyes large, brown. Three ocelli present. Antennae long, black with scapus and following segments dark brown. Pronotum green, slightly longer than head, with central impression. Abdomen slender. Body measurement 83-4.0mm.
Female - Broader than male, but description similar except insect is nearly all leaf-green. Abdomen green with middle part broad reddish brown. Body measurement 100.0 - 117.0 mm.

Egg
Small, dark brown, capsule oval, slightly hairy with small lighter brown knob-like capitulum on a stalk. Measurements (mm): capsule length: 2.7; width: 1.5; height: 1.5.

Name

Named Parapodacanthus in view of its apparent affinity with Podacanthus Gray. The species is named after the Hasenpusch family, who collected the majority of the type-series and have a passion for insects; few individuals can boast of such a beautiful range of insects in and around the vicinity of their rainforest home.

Distribution

Endemic for North Queensland, Australia. This species was only found at the lower slopes of Innisfail and Garradunga, Cairns, Kuranda, at Black Mt. Road and Mt. Lewis slopes.

Published: Revue Suisse de Zoologie 110 (1): 3-43; mars2003

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IN THE LAB

Of particular interest in the lab are the Eurycnema goliath stick insect ova, of which young have emerged and growing fast. While out in the field this year an unusual stick insect ova was collected. A single specimen with unusual ova sculpture it was housed to await emergence. Of disappointment was the emergence of a parasitic wasp. All material was preserved and forwarded onto Dr. Chris Burwell of Queensland Museum. Without a specimen emerging from the ova, identification was concluded at variation of ova belonging to Eurycnema sp.

Also new this summer are the Spiny Predatory Katydids (Listroscelidine), which are now established in breeding.


PARTIAL PLANT LIST FOR AIF PROPERTY

Part A - POLLY CREEK; alt. 50 metres
Compiled by: Andrew Ford, CSIRO Atherton, Nth. Qld.

FAMILY GENUS TAXON
Acanthacea . Pseuderantemu Pseuderanthemum variabile
Actinidiacea Saurauia Sauauia andreana
Alangiaceae Alangium Alangium villosum subsp Polyosmoides
Angiopterid Angiopteris Angiopteris evecta
Annonaceae Haplostichanth Haplostichanthus johnsonii
Apocynacea Alstonia Alstonia muelleriana
Apocynacea Alstonia Alstonia scholaris
Apocynacea Melodinus Melodinus acutiflorus
Apocynacea Melodinus Melodinus bacellianus
Araceae Pothos Pothos longipes
Araceae Rhaphidophora Rhaphidophora petrieana
Araliaceae Delarbrea Delarbrea michieana
Araliaceae Polyscias Polyscias Australiana
Araliaceae Polyscias Polyscias elegans
Araliaceae Polyscias Polyscias mollis
Arecaceae Archontophoen Archontophoenix alexandrae
Arecaceae Calamus Calamus australis
Arecaceae Calamus Calamus moti
Areaceae Hydriastele Hydriastele wendlandiana
Arecaceae Linospadix Linospadix microcarya
Arecaceae Linospadix Linospadix minor
Aspleniacea Asplenium Asplenium australasicum
Aspleniacea Asplenium Asplenium laserpitiifolium
Aspleniacea Asplenium Asplenium simplicifrons
Athyriaceae Diplazium Diplazium dameriae
Athyriaceae Diplazium Diplazium dilatatum
Celastracea Siphonodon Siphonodon membranaceus
Clusiaceae Garcinia Garcinia warrenii
Conneracea Connarus Connarus conchocarpus
Convolvulae Merremia Merremia peltate
Cunoniacea Caldcluvia Caldcluvia australiensis
Cunoniacea Gillbeea Gillbeea adenopetala
Cunoniacea Pullea Pullea stutzeri
Cyatheacea Cyathea Cyathea rebeccae
Cyatheacea Cyathea Cyathea woollsiana
Dichaperala Dichapetalum Dichapetalum papuanum
Dryopterida Tectaria Tectaria confluens
Elaeocarpa Aceratium Aceratium megalospermum
Elaeocerpa Elaeocarpus Elaeocarpus bancroftii
Elaeocarpa Elaeocarpus Elaeocarpus grandis
Elaeocarpa Elaeocarpus Elaeocarpus largiflorens
Elaeocarpa Sloanea Sloanea macbrydei
Erythroxylae Erythroxylum Erythroxylum ecarinatum
Euphorbiac Antidesma Antidesma erostre
Euphorbiac Bridelia Bridelia insulana
Euphorbiac Glochidion Glochidion sessiliflorum
Euphorbiac Mallotus Mallotus polyadenos
Euphorbiac Omphalea Omphalea queenslandiae
Euphorbiac Rockinghamia Rockinghamia angustifolia
Fabaceae Castanospermu Castanospermum australe
Gleicheniae Dicranopteris Dicranopteris linearis
Grossularia Polyosma Polyosma hirsute
Hernandiac Hernandia Hernandia albiflora
Hymenophy Cephalomanes Cephalomanes brassii
Hymenophy Cephalomanes Cephalomanes obscurum
Hymenophy Crepidomanes Crepidomanes barnardanum
Hymenophy Crepidomanes Crepidomanes bipunctatum
Hymenophy Crepidomanes Crepidomanes kurzii
Hymenophy Crepidomanes Crepidomanes saxifragoides
Hymenophy Trichomanes Trichomanes bimarginatum
Hymenophy Trichomanes Trichomanes mindorense
Hymenophy Trichomanes Trichomanes motleyi
Hymenophy Trichomanes Trichomanes tahitense
Icacinaceae Apodytes Apodytes brachystylis
Icacinaceae Citronella Citronella smythii
Icacinaceae Irvingbaileya Irvingvaileya australis
Lamiaceae Callicarpa Callicarpa longifolia
Lauraceae Beilschmiedia Beilschmiedia bancroftii
Lauraceae Beilschmiedia Beilschmiedia tooram
Lauraceae Cryptocarya Cryptocarya grandis
Lauraceae Cryptocarya Cryptocarya mackinnoniana
Lauraceae Cryptocarya Cryptocarya oblata
Lauraceae Cryptocarya Cryptocarya pleurosperma
Lauraceae Endiandra Endiandra globosa
Lauraceae Endiandra Endiandra hypotephra
Lauraceae Endiandra Endiandra leptodendron
Lauraceae Endiandra Endiandra montana
Lauraceae Endiandra Endiandra palmerstonii
Leeaceae Leea Leea indica
Lindsaeace Lindsaea Lindsaea obtusa
Melastomatae Medinilla Medinilla balls-headleyi
Meliaceae Dysoxylum Dysoxylum klanderi
Meliaceae Dysoxylum Dysoxylum oppositifolium
Meliaceae Dysoxylum Dysoxylum papuanum
Meliaceae Dysoxylum Dysoxylum parasiticum
Menisperm Carronia Carronia protensa
Menisperm Hypserpa Hypserpa decumbens
Menisperm Stephania Stephania japonica
Mimosacea Archidendron Archidendron whitei
Mimosacea Entada Entada phaseoloides
Monimiacea Doryphora Doryphora aromatica
Monimiacea Hedycarya Hedycarya loxocarya
Moraceae Ficus Ficus congesta
Moraceae Ficus Ficus mollior
Moraceae Ficus Ficus pantoniana
Moraceae Ficus Ficus septica
Moraceae Ficus Ficus variegata
Myristicaceae Myristica Myristica insipida
Myrsinaceae Ardisia Ardisia pachyrrhachis
Myrtaceae Acmena Acmena divaricate
Myrtaceae Syzigium Syzygium cormiflorum
Nephrolepi Arthropteris Arthropteris palisotii
Orchidacea Bulbophyllum Bulbophyllum baileyi
Orchidacea Eria Eria fitzalanii
Orchidacea Plectorrhiza Plectorrhiza brevilabris
Philesiacea Eustrephus Eustrephus latifolius
Philydracea Helmholtzia Helmholtzia acorifolia
Pittosporac Pittosporum Pittosporum rubiginosum
Polypodiac Colysis Colysis ampla
Polypodiac Drynaria Drynaria rigidula
Proteaceae Cardwellia Cardwellia sublimis
Proteaceae Carnarvonia Carnarvonia araliifolia
Proteaceae Helicia Helicia nortoniana
Proteaceae Musgravea Musgravea heterophylla
Proteaceae Opisthiolepis Opisthiolepis heterophylla
Rosaceae Prunus Prunus turneriana
Rubiaceae Antirhea Antirhea tenuiflora
Rubiaceae Atractocarpus Atractocarpus hitus
Rubiaceae Hedyotis Hedyotis auricularia var. melaneaica
Rubiaceae Ixora Ixora baileyana
Rubiaceae Lasianthus Lasianthus strigosus
Rubiaceae Ophiorrhiza Ophiorrhiza australiana
Rutaceae Acronychia Acronychia vestita
Rutaceae Brombya Brombya platynema
Rutaceae Euodia Euodia xanthoxyloides
Rutaceae Flindersia Flindersia bourjotiana
Rutaceae Medicosma Medicosma fareana
Rutaceae Melicope Melicope broadbentiana
Sapindaceae Arytera Arytera pauciflora
Sapindaceae Castanospora Castanospora alphandii
Sapindaceae Diploglottis Diploglottis smithii
Sapindaceae Guioa Guioa lasioneura
Sapindaceae Harpullia Harpullia frutescens
Sapindaceae Mischocarpus Mischocarpus exangulatus
Sapindaceae Toechima Toechima erythrocarpum
Sapotaceae Niemeyera Niemeyera prunifera
Sapataceae Palaquium Palaquium galactoxylon
Sapotaceae Pouteria Pouteria obovoidea
Sapotaceae Pouteria Pouteria xerocarpa
Selaginella Selaginella Selaginella longipinna
Smilacacea Smilax Smilax calophylla
Thelypterid Christella Christella subpubescens
Thelypterid Pronephrium Pronephrium asperum
Thymelaeae Phaleria Phaleria clerodendron
Vittariaceae Antrophyum Antrophyum callifolium
Winteracea Bubbia Bubbia semecarpoides
Zingiberacea Alpinia Alpinia arctiflora
Zingiberacea Alpinia Alpinia caerulea
Zingiberacea Alpinia Alpinia modesta
Zinginberacea Hornstedtia Hornstedtia scottiana

 


THE BUG FILES:

RUN BEETLE RUN
By Sue Hasenpusch
Reprinted with permission of Wet Tropics Newspaper June 2003

It has been nearly 70 years since Cane Toads were first released in the Little Mulgrave and Cairns areas. Released as tadpoles into natural ponds they soon took to their new surroundings like frogs to water. This new environment provided everything the toads needed to successfully establish themselves, with suitable habitat and an extensive food supply north Queensland made a most appropriate home. From here the toads set off, moving north, south and west. Travelling at a rate of around 30 kilometres a year they soon conquered many habitats from open forests and woodlands; grasslands; swamps and even beach dunes. In fact the Toad has had it real easy. Activities such as forest clearing, burning, grazing, mining and even as roads broke into undeveloped areas, we provided new and unexploited habitats for the Cane Toad.

Researchers are now gathering information on the effect the introduction of the Cane Toad has had on our native species in Australia. While we are seeing the adaptation by some predatory birds and smaller rodents that have taken to eating the toad yet have learnt to avoid the poison sacks, others are not so fortunate. Native predators such as Goannas and Quolls can die if they eat a toad.

Discussions lately, seem to suggest that the toad has been absorbed into our ecosystems and native species are capable of adapting to having the toad living in their environment. As we watch to see how the bigger animals are coping with this intrusion, we should also monitor the smaller fauna, which the toads predate upon. As known, toads eat just about anything that fits in their mouth including native frogs. However the main bulk of their diet consists of invertebrates, in particular insects and plenty of them.

A Fondness for Insects

Toads have such a fondness for insects, that in some areas they have been recorded feeding on only one type of insect due to its abundant supply. This is so with termites, some beetles and the backyard beehive. If an insect is available in quantity the toad will simply remain in that area, feeding and growing at a maximum rate.

While most insects can fly, we must give a thought to the many other species that are ground dwelling. Many ground dwelling insects are flightless and with no wings it is indeed difficult to escape the toad. One insect group, which has a number of flightless species, is the Carabidae family, commonly referred to as Carabs or Ground Beetles.

The Carabs are carnivorous insects predating upon other invertebrates and small animals. Carabs are extremely active insects with long slender legs, which enable them to rapidly run after prey, and with their prominent jaws they are indeed efficient hunters and scavengers. One of Australia's largest Carabs - Mecynognathus dameli from Cape York Peninsula, can reach 75mm in length and has quite formidable jaws.

Most Carabs are nocturnal, hiding out during the day in or under logs, under rocks and bark on trees. When night falls, they come out in pursuit of food or a mate. Some do have wings and perhaps capable of escaping a toad if they fly away fast enough but for the flightless Carabs, for example Caranums they are not so fortunate, their escape, run!

Some of the largest and most colourful Carabs are the Caranums with bright metallic colours. These ground beetles mostly live in burrows and under logs. We do know that many of these flightless species have restricted distributions but like most other ground beetles, very little information on their life histories is known.

A Jump Ahead

When it comes to finding insects, toads are always a jump ahead. So was the case for a group of entomologists specialising in ground beetle research. While on a field trip to record the activities of a specific species, days of looking under logs proved futile. When no specimens were found, desperation set in. On the eve of finishing their field trip, conversation was revolving around the amount of toads they had observed in the area. During discussions, the suggestion of opening a toad to see what they were eating proved to be an eye opener. Five specimens of the very same flightless species of ground beetle that these researchers were seeking were found in the stomach contents from a single toad.

With the possibility of many new species yet to be found and described, Toads are literally eating our undocumented fauna.

Changing the Living Standards

While we may have grown accustomed to the Cane Toad, it is uncertain as to the long-term effect it will have on our terrestrial and aquatic fauna.

Although the toad may not directly affect our living standards the same cannot be said for the many species of ground dwelling invertebrates, for them the Cane Toad is an intruder. Without doubt, toads are an unsuccessful biological control agent, which are now responsible for displacing and predating upon our native wildlife. As toads continue to spread they move into and occupy the shelters of many terrestrial animals. As their numbers increase, native species compete with them for the same food supply.

While many feel the loss of a few bugs is nothing to raise concern, we must remember that the insects are vital to the health of every ecosystem. Without insects the very food chain that all life forms depend upon could collapse.

All Australian ecosystems are precisely and uniquely structured for our native species only. Ultimately, the sustainability of all species is guaranteed when a healthy and productive environment exists. With an almost unknown marauder such as the Cane Toad, some of our most prized natural assets could be irreversibly damaged or even lost.

We need to decide how we feel about the Cane Toad, wether we are simply going to except it as here to stay and native species will have no choice but to adapt if possible or should action be taken to control this pest.


 

IMAGES FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

Cheers
Sue Hasenpusch Editor


Copyright 2002 Australian Insect Farm. All Right Reserved.

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