habitat garden, garden habitat


Finding drowned insects in the bird bath made me realize that it's not only birds that need water. So I've placed a large stone to provide a safe platform for thirsty insects, while still leaving enough room for birds to have a bath.

In this post I showcase some of the diversity of insect life I've found in the garden (and the house) this summer.

Conocephalomima barameda

This katydid appeared in the laundry. I managed to relocate it to the garden but first used the opportunity for a photo shoot. I think it's doing a poo. 

Katydid is one of its common names. Thanks to Simon at the Discovery Centre at Melbourne Museum, I'm able to identify and describe the exact species. It's a native species found in southeast Australia where it occurs from coastal heath or sub-alpine woodland. Apparently it can be very abundant and during drought times may seek water in gardens - or, as in this case - in laundries.

Orb spider web

I think spider webs are one of the wonders of the natural world. Different kinds of spiders build different kinds of webs. This one is an orb web, most efficient for catching flying insects - and blundering humans who can't see it unless the light is right!  I don't know which spider made this web because when I found it early one morning, the spider wasn't there.


In one part of the garden I often see these strange structures made of webbing. I asked the Discovery Centre for an explanation and got this reply:

It can be difficult to tell what constructed the webbing without seeing the occupant, or least evidence of the occupant. Insects and spiders leave behind evidence such as cast skins and frass (wastes) which can often give a clue. Without further evidence, the webbing is most likely to be from the Social Spider (Phryganoporus candidus). Adult spiders are about 1 cm long, and pale silvery-yellow, found in every state in Australia. They are particularly common in the drier areas of Victoria. The nests are usually occupied during summer so if it is this species, it's probably a nest from last summer.

Inside this webbing is, or was, a large community of critters, consisting of about one hundred spider siblings, as well as opportunistic parasites and scavengers. Not that it's a harmonious, truly cooperative community like a beehive. Spiders are notoriously individualistic. The fact the siblings aren't eating each other is probably due to pheromones. Kind of like the use of antidepressants with us humans.

More info on these spiders can be found at http://www.arachne.org.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=1824


 Didymoctenia exsuperata (from above)
 Didymoctenia exsuperata (from below)

This tiny moth, two cms from one delicate, intricately patterned wingtip to the other, kindly went to sleep on a window, enabling me to photograph it from both sides. I couldn't find much info about this moth on the web, other than it is a species of Ennominae that occurs in Australia.


Comments

  1. Nice post, Sue. I never thought to put a stone perch in a birdbath.

    I silently had an "Ah-Ha" moment when I looked at the pic of your katydid. I had no idea what they looked like. Somewhere in my online photo diary, I have a pic of a one that is similar.

    I love spider webs! I love the intricate details.

    Happy Gardening, Jane

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    1. thanks for the comment,Jane. I never seem to get sick of spider webs, they make great photos when the light is right.

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  2. Myra would take a fit if she came across a katydid in her laundry. It is very true when you say its not just the birds that are looking for water. Reminds me of the time when we had a small garden pond and a family of hedgehogs had gone into the pond for a drink only to find they couldn't scramble out again. Not nice to get up to in the morning, we did of course make alterations to the pond after this.

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    1. How sad about the hedgehogs, Alistair. But I'm aware of critters dying all around. Especially insects.

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  3. We have a rock in the bird bath for the little birds. Even the birds range in size from thumb-sized sunbirds to cat-sized hadeda ibis.

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    1. We have little birds but only once have I noticed them using the birdbath. Usually they stay high and it's the big birds that drink and bathe.

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  4. What a good idea to put a rock in the birdbath. Those are some lucky little bugs at your place. Summer is getting ready to be done? I hope it has not been a terrible one. I often think of you all down under when the seasons change.

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    1. The bugs at our place are very loved, when I see all the insect sprays in the supermarket I suppose they must be lucky.

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  5. I have just finished making a mosaic bird bath, complete with stone glued in place for anything that wants to use it.
    It is amazing what lives in our gardens beside us, sometimes we feel we are the trespassers!

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    1. HI Pauline, your bird bath is amazing, I am very impressed at your creativity. It is so satisfying, isn't it, when the critters make themselves at home in our gardens.

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  6. The insects that inhabit our gardens are fascinating creatures, and a healthy garden depends upon them. Thanks for highlighting some of the ones in your area.

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    1. thanks, Deb, I seem to be getting more and more fascinated by insects and spiders in particular. They're so alien compared to us humans.

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  7. I try to provide water for birds and others in the garden too....what a great thing to really look closely at our smaller critters. Now I don't mind them coming indoors but I too bring them back out.

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    1. Hi Donna, I'm wondering whether to make room for them in the house. Recently I re-located a tiny skink from the family room and I was very upset because I think I accidentally injured it and haven't seen it since.

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  8. I hate to be the human that blunders into a spider web. Gag. Had to laugh at the katydid doing a poo. You would, too, if you were his size and saw a big human.

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    1. I never thought of it like that - lol!

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  9. Fabulous that you were able to photograph the moth from above and below! I really liked this post, Sue. I find spider webs fascinating, too. Also, I was surprised that we have katydids and orb spiders in common with you--even if ours are different species.

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    1. I'm so pleased you liked the post, Beth.

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  10. We don't see katydids up here in the North of England but I did look them up on Wikipedia and was amazed to see that there are some 6,400 species world wide, amazing.

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    1. That's amazing, Rick, it's hard to get your head around there being so many species. And I think there are still some to be discovered, if their natural environment isn't destroyed before the scientists get to them.

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  11. Some lovely photos! I have never encountered a Katydid before, so was interested to see that, and the spiders too! Thank you

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    1. thanks for the visit and comment, Jane.

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  12. Beautiful photographs Sue. Sometimes I find bumble bees on the stones on the edge of the pond. Usually they are very drowsy. I sometimes wonder whether they nearly drowned or whether they were already at the end of their life and chose the pond as their final resting place.

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    1. I wonder too, Denise. Bumble bees are very cute and cuddly looking, the thought of their choosing your pond for their final resting place is beautiful. It would make a lovely childrens story.

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  13. You've so many wonderful ideas for welcoming all sorts of wildlife into your garden.

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    1. thanks, Peter, it's amazing the way my interest in wildlife has evolved. I think I used to think gardens were just about plants.

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