18 February 2007

Australian Native Bees

Australian native bees are very tiny compared to the honey bee, which for many people is a "real bee".

This is a honey bee. Note her size compared to the Eucalypt blossom.

Now compare her to one of our tiny native bees.

Here are two flowers (one native, one not) with the dainty native bee hard at work collecting pollen. You can clearly see the store gathered on the hind legs.
I am not a bee expert but I think these two bees are in the Trigona family, stingless bees

Brachyscome Multifida 'Break of Day' is a favourite with our tiny bees.

Information on bees

17 February 2007

Heteronympha mirifica - Wonder Brown

Isn't she pretty? I know we don't often associate these colours, browns and fawns, with prettiness rather thinking them drab; but I think she is pretty, dainty, soft and feminine. Or maybe I am just in soft mood because she sat so prettily for my photograph.

And her disguise is so cunning, her whole bottom half looks like a crinkled up brown leaf. Not too good for invisibility on a green grass stem but great on the branches of trees, or in amongst Gahnia clarkei, one of her caterpillars' food sources.

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16 February 2007

Papilio anactus - Dainty Swallowtail

We have had many more insects this year than I have noticed for a long, long time. I think it is because the drought has decimated the bird population and so the insects flourish. Also the plants are stressed and so they are attacked more readily and show obvious signs of distress.
Some of these insects are chewing their way rather rapidly through my garden, but butterflies I don't mind.
My daughter discovered this attractive caterpillar eating the leaves of my Citrus hystrix or Kaffir Lime. It was identifed as the caterpillar stage of the Papilio anactus butterfly.

I brought it inside and fed it fresh leaves daily and in a week or so it duly turned into a chrysalis and then last weekend into this beautiful butterfly.
My mother-in-law counted twelve of these butteflies fluttering about while she was out admiring the garden.

Would you like to learn more about Australian butterflies? Well you can!

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Eupoecila Australasiae (Fidder beetle or Rose Chafer)

These pretty beetles have been in quite a lot of gardens this year judging by the number of people asking questions about what they are.

I was busy in my rose garden, dead heading and tidying up leaves when I first noticed it moving purposefully across from one flower to the next.

As it walked it used its hind legs to pull a petal over to completely hide it from view.

I removed the petal to see what it was up to. He/She had finally reached the nectar and tucked in for a feast so I put the rose petal back to ensure privacy.

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15 February 2007

Baby King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)

I was listening to quite a commotion outside and just passing if off as the usual squabbling of resident birds

I almost missed seeing something I haven't noticed before.

The sight of a dad feeding his baby.

In my defence I did have an awful lot to do. We had a garden club coming to visit and we wanted the place to look its best. So there was much sweeping, weeding, mulching and mowing taking place - no time to listen to birds!

So here he is. I wonder what he's pushing into the baby's mouth?

11 February 2007

Tiny Little Flowers

All of these tiny flowers are less than the size of a 5 cent piece but each one is exquisitely detailed and beautiful.

Most were photographed while out bushwalking this morning and then in a friend's garden on the way back from my walk. They are not all native Australian plants, some are plain, common weeds. The yellow flower on the far right is a native but I haven't found its name yet. It shouldn't be too hard to find with those vicious spines and rather pointed sharp little leaves. This is one bush that doesn't want to be messed with.

Not only did I see tiny flowers but also tiny beetles, flies, moths and a few huge spiders (but they did have tiny mates in the web with them).

Again I don't know the name of this pastel pretty yet. It grows on a sparse little vine, hugging the ground.

The bright yellow poppy looks quite a size but looks can deceive. The flower is very small, again thumbnail size. It was growing in an old almost silted up dam along with some other very interesting plants. Quite difficult to photograph if you wanted to keep your feet nice and dry.

Very pretty I thought.

Next up is the flower spike of the common old Liriope but it looks rather special given this detailed attention all to itself.

It reminds me of flowers I laboriously made out of icing years ago, all sugary sweet.

Here is a common old clover flower, but how beautiful and intricate it is.

This one looks like it could grace any garden and be treated as a little treasure. Unfortunately it belongs to a weedy annual which is not welcome in most gardens. However I have space for the weeds as well.

They are often the most favoured of our wild creatures. The best year for butterflies and moths we ever had was when we returned from 4 years overseas to a very overgrown garden. Weeds abounded.

Once we tidied it up we lost the insects so now we have deliberate wild areas and don't worry too much about neatness and perfection.

And last, two favourites, little pink pretties.


9 February 2007

Robber Fly

I thought I better do a little housekeeping and name a few things on this site. I posted a photo long ago of a fly, and didn't know what is was. Here it is again.

This time I know it is a Robber Fly, family Asilidae. One site told me there are 7,100 members of this family!! That being the case I will be happy for the present just to know it is a Robber Fly.

I have been doing lots of research on flies and bugs lately, and all on the internet. This information is only available because of the generosity of other people. They post photos and all sorts of things for people like me to learn stuff.

And I thank them.

In my initial post I said I was amazed at how quickly this fly sped away once it had made up its mind to do so. It just took off straight up like a helicopter and was gone. Apparently one of the characteristics of this fly is their speed of flight. Also their sturdy appearance. I guess you have to be tough and strong if you are going to eat other insects.

One site I found where all the members are keen on Diptera (flies to the rest of us) is

Another interesting bug site, again just people helping out other people is
Link.I like this one because of all the photographs. Really beautiful, except in the section labelled "Carnage" where people have killed the bug before finding out what it was.

5 February 2007


I am still having fun with my new camera and capturing all sorts of things which I had no hope of seeing before. There's a whole tiny world out there if we just look hard enough.
This is quite a tiny beetle, think ladybird size. Although when you see her you know she is not a ladybird, not with that shape. Ladybirds always make me think of the VW beetle, same little rounded shape, but I don't suppose I'm the first one to have had that thought. They are called VW Beetles after all.

The tell tale holes in the leaves gives a clue about the diet of this pretty beetle. I have been reliably informed she is a Leaf Eating Beetle but other than that I cannot name her.

Next up is a very small fly. I tried the obvious in the search engines "green and black banded fly" but that didn't work. It could have. After all if you type in "pink-bellied moth" it works - you get a hit. Maybe it isn't even a fly - I'm just assuming, but the more I look at her the more I think she looks mosquitoish, especially with those long legs.

She was really, really tiny, even minute, but I can't remember what type of leaf it was on. Drat. Now I am going to have to walk around with a notebook, or maybe better still a little tape recorder.

At least now I have a record of what I've seen - I don't have to try and remember while being confronted with lots of possibilities, which by the time I have looked at them all I have no hope of even remembering what the original insect looked like. It's been wiped from my brain.

I didn't fare any better with this metallic blue fly.

While I was searching I came across a website though which is really interesting. It seems to be one family's effort to study insects in their native area, (Brisbane, Australia) and their efforts are really impressive and scholarly.

Here we have a very well camoflauged insect which I first took to be a moth. I had my doubts though because I thought I could see bug eyes, rather than antennae. It took me a while of searching through various books and in the end I found it quite by accident. It is in fact a Scolypopa australis or Passionvine Hopper and it is indeed a type of bug which sucks fluids from plants.

A book I really like is Burnum Burnum's Wild Things which is a pocket sized book that you can take bushwalking with you. Its contents are organised in an unusual way, for example flowers are listed under their colour, so that if you come across a pink flower you just look in the pink/red flower section. By necessity it only has quite common things in it but nevertheless very useful.

Lastly is this little beetle, classic lady bird shape. There is a family of them living on my Zucchini plants. I have no idea if they are good guys or bad guys but I can't see any apparent damage so they are safe for the moment. Besides I have so many zucchinis I can share.

4 February 2007

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Worcester Gold'

I don't have as many flowers as I would like for the time of year, but I do have a few. This is a new plant of mine, bought from East Coast Perennials, New South Wales, a mail order nursery. I buy lots of plants mail order because the nurseries nearby have boring stuff and I like to hunt up more unusual plants.

I had a very harsh area of the garden which I wanted to plant with yellow and orange coloured plants to match a structure which I had built to house a lovely old cart. The Carriage House we call it. And the garden hugging its edges is by necessity "The Carriage House Garden".

I ordered this particular plant because I was promised yellow foliage when it first comes back to life after its rest in winter, however I neglected to read the rest of the catalogue entry apparently -which said mauve flowers! Definitely the wrong colour for that area.

It won't be a problem though because this plant self sows and I am sure I can move the seedlings to a more suitable place early next spring. Meanwhile it is certainly deserving of a place in the garden.
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Brugmansia x Candida or Angel's Trumpets

Could anything be more gorgeous?

I feel so lucky to have these flowers this year because the rainfall has been so low and I have noticed that they like lots of moisture, though they survive without it. When we have lots of rain they have flush after flush of flowers all summer long, and even well into autumn some years.

We had a reasonable fall of rain a few weeks back and this was the result.

I love to go for evening walks, right on dusk, just to smell my Angel's Trumpets.
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3 February 2007

King Parrot


Peek-a-boo King Parrot.

Beautiful birds aren't they? Beautiful but pesky in orchards. Most years we don't get any of the fruit off this apple tree. They are all eaten before they ripen.

Birds, up to a dozen at a time, congregate, feast and party here amongst our fruit trees. After three years of drought the birds number have decreased dramatically and this fellow was all alone.

King Parrots are fruit eaters and can sometimes be a menace to growers who are trying to make a living from supplying fruit. We, however, are not in that position and we welcome the bird life and are willing to share with them; even though apples certainly

local blossom trees have finished and the exotic ones in my garden have shrivelled and dropped their buds and fruits. Our local creek is now dry. We do still have water in our dams but have noticed that the birds prefer to drink from smaller bird baths scattered around the place than attempt to drink from large open areas.

Click here to learn more about King Parrots