Friday, 30 May 2008

Enter The Mollusc!

On Monday, this very striking little snail caught my eye. It was the first time I had seen one like this. It was on parsley and about 1cm in length. I didn't find any others.

Because I am a 'must know' sort of person, I contacted the Museum of Victoria. The Museum's "Discovery Centre" replied the next day.

Apparently there are two similar species. Prietocella barbara (previously known as Cochlicella barbara) and Cochlicella acuta. Both species are migrants from the Mediterranean and deemed to be agricultural pests in Australia!

The Museum thinks this one is probably Prietocella barbara because of my location.

Since this 'photo opportunity' the little snail seems to have disappeared.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Another Mantid

(Plus a correction to my first Mantid entry!)

Last night, I saw this Mantid on a wall. I have hanging baskets in the vicinity plus several pot plants. This is quite a large one, about 8cm in length. As it is fully winged, it's probably a male.

(Click images to enlarge)

This morning, it was still there, so I moved it into the closest hanging basket.
It's possible this Mantid is also the Purple-winged Mantid (Tenodera australasiae)

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Rain = More Hepialids

(Although it's still too dark outside to take the measurement, we had some rain overnight.)

There were a number of this species of Hepialid out and about last night. Many came inside, several attached to me. They were carefully captured and taken out into darkness via the front door.

These particular moths were slightly smaller in length (approximately 3cm) although a couple were larger.

Distinguishing features on this moth was the bright yellow antennae and the appearance of a longer abdomen protruding at rest. The hindwing was yellowish/brown.

If I am correct and this moth belongs to the Oxycanus family, then it would appear the moth photographed may have been anxious to breed.

For instance, Oxycanus antipoda females apparently deposit eggs in flight onto vegetation close to the ground.

Hepialids generally have a small window in which to breed. About 24 hours.

UPDATE: Likely to be Oxycanus antipoda

Monday, 26 May 2008

Proteuxoa - I Think :-)


There has been very little moth activity here for a while. I suspect it has something to do with the lack of rain.

Here are a couple of (not very good) shots of two small moths I photographed earlier this month. The top one photographed through glass. They both appeared identical in body shape. The only difference was the colour.

I found it very difficult trying to make an absolute identification.

UPDATE: Proteuxoa (possibly marginalis)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Coprosma Hawk Moth

Speaking of hindwings, the saga of the correct identification of my Hawk Moth, which I was lucky enough to photograph in February this year, has, hopefully, come to an end.

Thanks to the WA Department of Agriculture's website which has a comprehensive list of rather good specimen images (see "Links" to the right of page.) I was exploring the site on another mission but became sidetracked as I scrolled through their Sphingidae list. At last, I found a real difference between Hippotion scrofa (Coprosma Hawk Moth) and Gnathothlibus erotus/eras.

Hippotion scrofa has spots on wing and a dark line on wingtip, whereas the other species apparently doesn't.

(Click to enlarge image of this magnificent moth)

Now for a little rant! :-)

In the era of climate change, we juniors in the field should be providing a significant contribution to entomology by being the eyes on the ground, particularly as species are likely to move into previously unrecorded zones.

To enable us to correctly identify species, online databases (specifically, image galleries) run by Museums and, dare I say, the CSIRO should be updated and upgraded. Inclusion of approximate size of an invertebrate would be of benefit, particularly when working through the vast number of moth families and sub-families. It would be helpful to know whether we are looking for a 5 tonne truck or a Mini Moke!

I think we really need a comprehensive entomology database along the lines of USQ's brilliant "Find A Spider" website.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Another Hepialid (?)

We were lucky to receive 26mm rain over the past few days, but this was the only moth I saw last night.

Approximately 6cm in length, it had interesting markings on the wings but I have had difficulty finding close matches on any of my moth websites.

I apologise for the distracting shadow, but the moth was in a difficult position to photograph well.

I have constructed an observation jar (a large one) and if this species turns up again tonight, I'll try and get a close look at the hindwing.

It's possbily Oxycanus sp.

I would welcome a comment from any lepidopterists correcting me, if I am wrong with my identification.

(Click image to enlarge)

UPDATE: Again, likely to be Oxycanus antipoda.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Salticid And Sparassid

Yesterday, I found this tiny Salticid darting around on the leaf. It was possibly in the process of constructing a single thread bridge from one leaf to others. There were threads just visible this morning, but I couldn't find the spider.

I think this one may be Maratus sp.

This poor little Huntsman was exposed when I removed a piece of canvas to pack away.
Approximately 1.5cm in body length, I think it's Neosparassus sp - possibly calligaster (previously Olios calligaster) I've learnt with many invertebrate species, there seems to be constant arguments about genus/species.
I had no intention of upending this model to see if it had a black patch underneath the abdomen, so the arguments may rage on!

Confirmed: Neosparrasus calligaster

Monday, 12 May 2008


Whilst doing a bit of gardening today, I disturbed this Mantid in the mulch. I wouldn't have noticed it had it not given me a glimpse of it's magnificent wings.

It was approximately 10cm in length.

I think it's the Stick Mantid (Archimantis latistyla)


Ive been researching Mantids again. (29/5/08) It's possible this is Tenodera australasiae, the Purple-winged mantid.

(Click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Oenochroma vinaria caterpillars!

During April last year, my grevilleas were hosts to a number of caterpillars. Of course, we had over 100mm of rain up to and including April. This year, our rainfall total is only 63mm and I believe this has affected breeding.

Oenochroma vinaria is a very common moth throughout most of Australia and I wonder how common it will remain in my area, if, as we are being warned, the la Nina weather system has apparently weakened and another el Nino (drought producing) event appears to be taking hold again. The 12-year-plus drought has not even looked like breaking in the west and north-western districts of Victoria.
This particular moth will be only one of many invertebrates to suffer decline in populations over some sectors of Victoria, due to climate change, in my opinion.

I took the opportunity to take a couple of photos of the very colourful Heliotrope Moth (Utetheisa pulchelloides) as it warmed itself on a flywire screen this morning. This moth is a member of the Tiger Moth family (Arctiidae) and has a wingspan of around 3cm. U pulchelloides is a day flier and has been present in my garden, on and off, since January this year.

This one was approximately 2cm in length.

(Click to enlarge)

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Hepialids Again

After 6mm of rain on the 1st May, I had another 'session' with the Rain Moths.
They generally emerge after rain from Autumn to early Winter.

There can be a variation in colouring from pale to quite dark.
Although newly emerged, this one is interesting as it appears to have a couple of bald spots.

The adults are unable to feed and only live about 24 hours.
Yesterday, I went on the search for casings. This one protruded from the ground about 2.5cm.
(Click images to enlarge)

This casing was 8cm in length. The caterpillars feed on eucalypt roots.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Eriophora heroine

Well, I think it is!

I found the markings on this Orb Weaver striking.

These were her eggs, which hatched fairly quickly and she positioned herself in the same leaf each morning not far from her brood.