Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Namadgi Damselflies

While out at Namadgi surveying moths, as described in the previous post, I took some photographs of damselflies that were hawking up and down a stream side. I could not identify them at the time, but I wanted to collect some site records for the local recorder, Harvey Perkins. He subsequently and kindly identified them for me. See his posts on dragonflies and damselflies at

When I went down to the stream by the campsite at dawn, the damselflies were all hanging from grass and sedge stems over the water, still coated with dew, shining in the rising sun. But the water evaporated quickly and the insects soon warmed up. All I do here, is share those brief magic moments.

Four damselflies hang in their overnight roosts on grass stems overhanging a stream. Soon they were dry, warm and off hunting, mating and laying eggs.

Metallic Ringtail Austrolestes cingulatus, male

Metallic Ringtail, male.

Bronze Needle Synlestes weyersii tillyardi, male.

Common Bluetail Ischnura heterostica, male.

Common Bluetail, female.

Bronze Needle, male.

Bronze Needle, female.

Metallic Ringtail, male.

Metallic Ringtail, female.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

February moth survey

Sandava scitisignata 
The February moth survey in the ACT was held in the forested hills of Namadgi in the south of the territory about 65 km from the Black Mountain survey site and the centre of Canberra city. Once again, I am indebted to Suzi Bond for organising the weekend-long trip and to Glenn Cocking and Ted Edwards for identifying all the moths I photographed.

The moths were attracted to a light and lured to land on a nearby sheet of white fabric spread vertically next to the lamps. And some would land on nearby trees, where I took most of these photographs. This was all in forest without another light to be seen other than the stars above. The night was still and quiet apart from the background clicking of insects. Night-time in the bush, great.

The following are just a sample of the many moth species we found, and I have chosen this set for the individual features described. They are not in any taxonomic or rarity order.

Entometa sp. I like the broad and colourful antennae this moth has, and its 'furry trousers'.

Euproctis baliolalis is another furry species, seen here blending in well with the hairy lichens on a tree stem.

A specimen of Abantiades latipennis hangs from the same tree as the moth above. Its body is pink, but always hidden by folded wings when landed.

A bi-coloured beauty, shy to show its face Acyphas semiochraea. 

Not all moths landed on the sheet or trees. This one preferred to land on the nearby ground, still in the lamplight, but in enough shadow to be easily missed and trod upon. Well it is rather well camouflaged as a fallen leaf, Monoctenis ballerina. 

Many of the species we trapped had furry bodies. The fur is of course modified scales as moths do not have hair. It can be cold in the hills, especially at night in summer or any time of day or night outwith. So, these furry coats would help keep the frost off the moths delicate bodies. This Lomera boisduvalii has a furry collar to its coat. 

I never knew what to expect to appear next under the lamps, the variety of shapes and colours seemed endless. Phaeophlebosia furcifera.

What a tiger, Tigrioides alterna. Think small, look close, whenever you go out at night. 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Tailed Emperor emerged

The first of the Tailed Emperor butterflies emerged from its chrysalis today. When I checked on them at 1130 in the morning, this one, the first to set, had begun to show the adult butterfly colour beneath the case. The 'fur' of the thorax and abdomen and the wings spots can be clearly seen. I had been checking them every day and this one had turned straw-yellow yesterday.

I went to set up the time-lapse camera, only to find that it had not been emptied and re-charged so I had to do all that. Meanwhile, by the time that was done, about one-o-clock, the butterfly had just fully emerged. So it had taken less than an hour and a half to emerge. I had thought I still had time to set up, oops. I will be ready for the next one.

About twenty minutes later the butterfly turned around and continued to stretch.

To think that this marvelous, delicate form of life had been squashed into that tight case for the past 19 days. And it had been in a much more simple form of a caterpillar before that.

What a chance to see immaculate insect wing-scales. Not a single one missing or torn.

I think this butterfly was a female as it had an almost-all-white body and its tail was broad-ended. Here she extends her proboscis for the first time, stretching it through the leaves.

Then, this is her retracting his proboscis drawing in a tiny drop of water from the leaf surface. Her very first drink.

An emperor's tail - absolutely perfect.

A few minutes later, she was warmed up and flew off over the garden.