Friday, 18 November 2016

Australian Tree Crickets

Australian Tree Crickets
Family Gryllidae; subfamily Oecanthinae

You Ning Su and I are writing a guidebook to Australian crickets (in the narrow sense). We are gathering photos and information and have been doing so for the past couple of years. We expect the project to be completed late in 2017 with publication in the following year.  We are happy to receive any photos of Australian crickets. If they are selected to be in the book, the photographer will receive a gratis copy of the book in exchange for the use of the photograph.

The Australian Tree Crickets are known from in two genera, Oecanthus and Xabea. The former is a world-wide genus occurring in tropical and subtropical regions. Xabea has a much more limited distribution. It is found mostly in the old World tropics. Both are nocturnal in their habits.

In Australia, Xabea is represented by four species all of which are found in north Queensland, especially along the coast in the rainforest. They are distinctive in colour and pattern and very different from Oecanthus in having clasping cerci in both sexes. 

We have covered the strange habit of X. atalaia in this blog before. species inhabit the understory where they live on the undersides of leaves in small populations.

Oecanthus is known in Australia from three species. Both O. rufescens and O. angustus are widespread across most of the country. O. adyeri has been found only in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. All occur in grasses, often along the margins of mixed forests. Males produce loud continuous or broken songs. Several males sing for a while in one place and then move on to other sites, seemingly as a group. 

Concentrated collecting has not produced any additional species of either genus.

 We are fortunate to have photographs of all species except O. adyeri. As one might expect with singing insects, tree crickets have very distinctive calling songs.

 A male X. atalaia Otte and Alexander with his head inserted through a hole in the leaf (the hole not made by him) and the leaf apparently serving as an amplifier. (See the link above)
 Head and thorax of a male of X. atalaia. Two of the species of Xabea have very colourful and distinctively marked heads and thoraxes. 

Head and thorax of X.  leai Chopard
 The clasping cerci of a male of X. atalaia.
 Female of X. leai.
 Male of X.tumbarumba. This species has a greenish tinge.
 X. wyebo Otte and Alexander, a rather plain species with a sculptured head and pronotum. See below.
 Male Oecanthus angustus Chopard. This species usually lacks dark markings on the sides of the tegmina and in the middle of the abdomen. The basal joints of the antennae are unmarked in Australian Oecanthus. This is quite different from the North American species where antennal markings are distinctive of the species.
 Singing male of O. rufescens Chopard. Note the stripe on the middle of the abdomen.
 Male O. rufescens on grass stem at rest. Note median stripe on abdomen and the dark brown stripe laterally of the tegmina (top wings).
Female O. rufescens. Note the brown stripe on the sides of the tegmina. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Night Walk 2016

Each year the Friends of the Botanic Gardens, Cairns conduct a Night Walk in place of its November meeting. This year we had a dual attraction. We decided to run two light sheets in precisely the same place as we did in July for the Moth Night, that is along the Red Arrow Track. In addition to the insects, a Striped Possum and a Green Tree Snake were seen along with the usual Cane Toads.

Here are some of the highlights with the photographer's names listed with their photos.

 P. Shanahan photo
 Meadow Argus P. Shanahan photo
Tailed Emperor B. Richardson photo
Tailed Emperor  P. Shanahan photo
 Pterophorus albidus D. Tuke photo
 Assassin bug B. Richardson photo
Agrioglypta itysalis  B. Richardson photo
Maruca vitrata B. Richardson photo
  Ruttellerona sp B. Richardson photo
Asota heliconia B. Richardson photo
Anthela astata B. Richardson photo

 Balta sp D. Rentz photo
 Callophoridae D. Rentz photo
Carbrunneri maxi feeding on undigested bird dung  D. Rentz photo
Carbrunneria maxi lateral view D. Rentz photo
 Carbunneria maxi  feeding on floral parts D. Rentz photo
Newly emerged nymph of Caedicia sp  D. Rentz photo
 D. Rentz photo
 Cricket Cardiodactylus novaeguineae  nymph D. Rentz photo
  Cardiodactylus novaeguineae closeup D. Rentz photo
 Glyphodes doleschalii D. Rentz photo
Bradina admixtalis D. Rentz photo
 Cricket Daintria singing from tree trunk D. Rentz photo
Green Lacewing in the middle of egglaying  D. Rentz photo
 egg emerging from abdomen D. Rentz photo
Heterostegane insulata  D. Rentz photo
Hydrillodes metisalis D. Rentz photo
Mating craneflies (sorry Loftus!)   D. Rentz photo
 Stick insect Sipyloidea larryi female D. Rentz photo
D. Tuke photo

One of the many many spiders see, mostly on the ground but many on tree trunks and vegetation. They were easily spotted by noting the their sparkling eyes as they reflect in the headlights and torches. 

An interested observer


As unusual as it may seem, this little cockroach brings the total number of species recorded from this piece of rainforest in Kuranda to 93. It is an ectobiid, subfamily Blattellinae. Beyond that I cannot place it to genus. Only one of the cockroach species recorded from here is introduced. All the others are native species and belong here. They cannot last for long inside the house.

It is a small insect, the squares are approximately 1 mm across. Beyond that, it is in a genus unknown to me. Quite possibly could be included in Carbrunneria, but it would be an unusual species if so.
 In nature
 Ventral view subgenital plate
Posterior view tip of abdomen

Super Moon at Yorkeys

Super Moon at Yorkeys Knob, Cairns, Queensland, 14 November 2016

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Locals: It's Spring

Our Cassowaries are healthy!

 "Socks", the local resident female seems to know her way around
 Kaa, the resident python, was looking for the odd rat the other morning
The end of the tail of the python
 Everyone gets into the act
 Goannas are active now that the warm weather has arrived
 A fulgoroid tree hopper, Achilidae, Aneipo ?diana.
 Another fulgoroid tree hopper, Achilidae, Aneipo?diva.
 Another fulgoroid tree hopper, this one possibly a flatid, genus Massila
A katydid, Disastella kuranda, a species with a broader distribution than its name suggests.

Thanks to Melinda Moir for help with the achilid identifications.