Our holiday pictures comprise a nice selection of insect shots by reader Tony Eales in Australia. His notes are indented. I’ll also put out a call for readers to send in their good wildlife photos (and “wildlife” includes landscapes and plants).
Tony from Australia again. One thing that I’ve noticed since getting into insect photography is that you come across odd constructions and it’s always worth taking a few photographs and asking amateur hobby internet groups what is going on.
My first such discovery was of the Clouded Footman Moth (Anestia ombrophanes). The caterpillar is a hairy affair which eats lichen. When it comes time to pupate they construct a light cocoon made of their own hairs tied together with silk. It was this I first photographed.
The males of this species look like typical small moths but the females are large and wingless, they stay with their cocoon and lay their eggs on the outside.
Other weird things I’ve found, the remains of a basket lerp (Cardiaspina sp.); the weirdly patterned chrysalis of an ichneumon wasp (Hyposoter sp.); the remains of a planthopper (maybe a spittlebug Philagra parva, which are common in this area) killed by a cordyceps fungus; and the egg case of a Jewel Spider (Austracantha minax).
Planthopper killed by Cordyceps fungus:
Egg case of Jewel Spider:
My latest mystery is yet another odd moth caterpillar. It appears to be in the same family as the more well known, Gum Leaf Skeletoniser (Uraba lugens),which is famous for wearing its old moults as a hat. The one I found appears to be making a protective cage out of its poop as it skeletonises the leaf. None of the experts I’ve consulted have seen the like and it’s probably not a species either known or described. As Don Herbison-Evans says on his web page, there are “3,803 named and described Australian Lepidoptera species, but sadly only including 733 Caterpillar pictures”. The only way to fix this is for people to catch, photograph and raise to adulthood many more caterpillars which can then be identified. My plan is to get back to the site where I photographed these guys and hopefully collect one to raise.