Buggin with Bridgey – January 2022

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Cairns Nature Tour in the Cairns Botanic Gardens.  As the months roll by, subtle changes in the seasons bring sightings of new creatures and this report aims to give people a wrap up of the current animals seen as well as provide an ongoing citizen science account of our wonderful critters that can be seen in the tropical north of Queensland.

Bug lady returns to Cairns for Nature Tours

I’m back…after two months in Sydney for my Disco Bugs Exhibition at Bondi Beach as part of the Head On Photo Festival.   I did miss Cairns, and was really keen to see some of the new season animals like Rainforest Snails, Crickets, lots of Cairns Birdwing Caterpillars and a host of new life!  Here’s just a few of them.  Really looking forward to 2022 with Let’s Go Buggin Cairns Nature Tours and some new projects.  I am celebrating a milestone birthday this year so it’s going to be a BIG year for me with some interesting travel in the works!

Green Tree Ant Queen (Oecophylla smaragdina) Cairns Nature Tour Let's Go Buggin Tours

Queen Green Tree Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina)

Green Tree Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina)

January is the time that new Queen Green Tree Ants have grown big enough and take flight to start colonies of their own.  I’ve seen perhaps 20 in the last three weeks.

Enormous queens, reaching as much as 3cm (1 inch) long, search for large flat green leaves suitable to start a nest.   Her many workers of the colony sew together the leaves using the larvae as glue guns sticking the leaves together.  Yep, that’s some serious nature-at-its-finest slave-labour!

Annual Member (Top Bugger) Maurice Allan saw this queen nurturing some new larvae… the first brood of a new colony of Green Tree Ants. If successful, she will have her workers and other colony members create a large football-sized nest completely surrounding her with several layers of leaves.

Queen Greet Tree Ant by Maurice Allan on Let's Go Buggin Cairns Nature Tour

Queen Green Tree Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) with larvae.  Photograph by © Maurice Allan

Green Ant Hunter (Cosmophasis bitaeniata)

Still on the subject of Green Tree Ants, they have a predator a stealthy as a ninja. The Green Ant Hunter is my favorite jumping spider (Salticidae).  Not only is she the most beautiful but she’s super clever.  She has evolved to look enough like green ants to enter into the aesthetic mimicry category in the Golden Globes Bug Edition.  She wouldn’t win that award as there are some amazing entrants in that category, but she would win Gold at the sense-of-smell Olympics with her Masters in Aromatherapy.  This species has learned to produce a pheromone that mimics the Green Ants pheromone. This trick allows her inside the Green Ants nest to snatch unprotected larvae and exiting without the ants knowing.  She goes completely undetected stealing their babies in plain sight!  It really is some incredible predator evolvement. Nature is simply amazing!

Green Ant Hunter Cosmophasis bitaeniata Let's Go Buggin Cairns Nature Tour

Green Ant Hunter  (Cosmophasis bitaeniata)

Fig Longicorn Beetle (Acalolepta vastator)

On a recent Special Night Walk with Let’s Go Buggin Annual Members (Top Buggers) we saw an incredible 8 Longicorns, including a mating pair.  All these individual beetles had antennae wingspans of 16 plus centimeters (6 inches).  I successfully shot an in-camera 4-shot hand-held focus stack on this huge individual.

Fig Longicorn Beetle (Acalolepta vastator) Let's Go Buggin Cairns Nature Tour

Fig Longicorn Beetle (Acalolepta vastator) 4 image in-camera hand-held focus stack.


As you may know, Cairns had a slow start to the wet season. And for this reason a lot of mycelium has suffered and died, causing a delay in the mushroom season for a lot of species.  There is however a small number of pioneering species with fruiting bodies and there is certainly enough to start Let’s Go Shroomin Tours for this year.   Here are some examples I’ve been seeing in the last 2 weeks.

I’m so excited to start 2022!

If you are reading this and would like to book a Let’s Go Buggin Tour in February feel free to use the discount code ‘blog’ to get a 30% discount.  Follow this link.  I hope to see you out there in bugland.

Next Blog February.

Bridgette uses Olympus OMD EM1 ii, 60mm M.Zuiko lens and CygnusTech Diffuser.