Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga

March 29, 2010, 11:56 pm
Filed under: General, Observations | Tags: , , ,

An earlier post (Willans Hill in Summer, January 5) listed a number of insect species found in the Wagga area. The present post can be considered a continuation of that one. Where possible the insects illustrated have been identified to the level of species, but identification is not always straightforward. Of the many resources I have used, the Brisbane Insects website is probably the most useful (I take the blame for any incorrect identifications, of course).

This is likely to be the first of many posts on the insect fauna of the area.

The Tailed Emperor is a large and beautiful butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is probably not a permanent resident here, but vagrants have been known to reach southern Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. The larva is pictured here on a Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus), one of the species’ many larval foodsources, on Willans Hill. The “horns” are purely for intimidation: the caterpillar is completely harmless.

The larva of the Privet Hawk Moth is a large, robust and strikingly patterned caterpillar that – despite its name – is equally at home on a variety of introduced garden plants. The individual photographed was seen in a suburban garden, apparently feeding on the leaves of the Purple Trumpet Vine (Podranea ricasoliana), a South African import. Privet (Ligustrum spp.) is a significant garden escapee. Two species, L. sinense and L. vulgare, are declared noxious weeds in NSW.

Wasp Moths belong to the Ctenuchinae, a subfamily of the Arctiidae (Tiger Moths). There are a number of similar Amata species, which cannot be easily distinguished. A number of individuals were seen recently in Livingstone National Park.

The Tiger Lichen Moth is also a member of the Arctiidae, this time of the subfamily Lithosiinae (Lichen Moths). Once again, several individuals were seen in Livingstone.

This stocky, distinctive moth was seen on Willans Hill and at Mundwaddery Cemetery. It belongs to the family Notodontidae. Its face is obscured by a dense mane of fibrous hairs:

The Diamond Beetle, also known as the Botany Bay Diamond Weevil, was the first Australian insect to be formally described. It is apparently very common around Sydney but is less so here.

Most ladybird species are considered to be important control agents of crop and garden pests. The Twentyeightspotted Ladybird (also referred to as Epilachna 28-punctata and Epilachna cucurbitae), on the other hand, is a leaf-eater, and is also highly prolific. The larva is bizarre:

A total of fourteen mature individuals were seen on a single zucchini plant.

Paropsis variolosa resembles a large ladybird. It feeds exclusively on the leaves of Eucalyptus species. This individual was photographed on Willans Hill.

This Longicorn (“long-horned”) Beetle was photographed on a Kangaroo Thorn (Acacia paradoxa) shrub in Livingstone National Park. The precise identity of the beetle is uncertain, but it may be a species of Platyomopsis.

The Green Potato Bug is – like the Twentyeightspotted Ladybird – a common resident of suburban gardens. It feeds on tomatoes, potatoes and other cultivated plants.

I have added the Black-Faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) to the birdlist for Wagga Wagga. This brings the total number of species recorded over the past twelve months to 157, exactly 150 of which are native.


After the Rain
March 13, 2010, 12:59 pm
Filed under: General, Observations | Tags: , ,

“TORRENTIAL” screamed the front page of the Daily Advertiser, following Wagga’s wettest March day on record. The lake has filled for the first time in a very long time.

This is the lake as of March 11. By way of contrast, the photograph below shows the lake as it looked on January 21.

Very few shorebirds remain at the lake, of course, as there is no longer a very distinct shoreline. The water will most likely recede before long.

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I have two in the works: one on fungi and one on insects.