Buggin with Bridgey – July 2021

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Photography 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.

Photography Tour Cairns Botanic Gardens – Let’s Go Buggin JULY Monthly Report

Feather-Horned Beetle Let's Go Buggin Tours Cairns Botanic Gardens

Feather-Horned Beetles (Rhipicera mystacina)

Well to my absolute delight the Feather-Horned Beetles ARE BACK!!! Three years ago I was fortunate to stumble across a hot spot for these beetles.  This is now the third consecutive year I have seen a decent population of these incredible looking beetles all in the same area.  I was a little nervous that they might not reappear after a tree in the area was removed. My thoughts were that perhaps the grubs (larvae) might be growing up inside this tree… but luckily it seems that the tree removal did not affect their presence.  It seems not much is known about this species.  They are however fairly well distributed down the eastern coast of Australia, with many iNaturalist observations as far south as Tasmania.  It also seems as though there is little behaviour documentation on this species.

Female Feather-Horned Beetles do not have the incredible antennae that the males have, and are slightly smaller.

This year, I witnessed females laying eggs for the first time. This could possibly be the first time this has been documented so this eye-witness account is extremely exciting to me, as there could be some valuable information learned about their life-cycles.  As well as this, it gives me hope to see them appear again next July.

From Left to Right:   Female Feather-Horned Beetle.    The rear-end of a female on a tree trunk showing a row of eggs.   Cropped view of same picture, showing eggs.

Also, for the first time this year I saw a male with his whole right antenna missing. Could he have lost it in a battle with another male?   Now that would be an incredible photo opportunity to see two of these males fighting with their antennae!  Does this even happen?  Has anyone seen this?  Please comment below.

Perhaps that’s a photo on the wish list for next years Featherhorn beetle season.

From Left to Right:   The male with only one antennae.   Let’s Go Buggin Annual Member Harley was lucky enough to have an individual land on him.

Orange Lacewing Caterpillars (Cethosia penthesilea paksha)

Orange Lacewing Caterpillar cluster Tours Cairns Botanic Gardens

A first-time sighting happened this month with clusters of Orange Lacewing Caterpillars.  I’ve often seen the butterflies flying in the gardens, as well as some of my other go-to photography spots and on one occasion, I witnessed a solo caterpillar which I figured it was a random occurrence on the host plant. It seems this species of butterfly lays its eggs in small clusters from 10 to 20.   I’ve witnessed several clusters of these beautiful caterpillars.  There is still a good number of these on their host plant, as well as some unhatched eggs, brand new caterpillars and also plenty of cocoons…so if you are keen to see them…get in quick!

From Left to Right:   Young Orange Lacewing caterpillars .   Top side of Orange Lacewing butterfly male.    Undersides of mating pair of Orange Lacewing butterflies

If you are interested in a seeing some of these animals and more or are wanting some cool critters to photograph, please come and join me for a tour in Cairns. Visit the Book A Tour page and we will see you on a Let’s Go Buggin Tour Soon!

Next Blog August.

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