Buggin with Bridgey – May 2021

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

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.

Mirrorball Spider (Thwaitesia sp.)

Mirrorball Spiders

Suddenly in May we started to see many Mirrorball Spiders (Thwaitesia sp.).  These gorgeous but tiny long-legged spiders have a glistening abdomen very much like a mirrorball (hence the name).    The spiders are part of the very large family of Theridiidae Spiders.

The metallic blotches on their abdomen is a bi-product of their digestion.  Rather than excreting this substance from the bodies, it gets diverted to the lining of the gut, forming these silvery patches.

The sparkling light exuding from their abdomen is actually an amazing camouflage for an animal that lives in the rainforest where there are a million sparkles from sunshine bouncing off raindrops, giving the spider a way to hide in plain sight.

A few Mirrorball Spiders (Thwaitesia sp.) found on Let’s Go Buggin Night Walks

Best seen at night when you can use your torch to spot the reflection bounce back to you, these tiny gems take a little practice to get a decent photograph.   Shout out to Let’s Go Buggin Annual Member Harley, who became the Mirrorball spider spotter king, and was finding them on a regular basis during the night walks.  We were sometimes seeing close to 10 on any given Night Walk.

Longicorn Beetle Photography Tour Cairns

Longicorn Beetles

Say it with me “LONGICORN!”  This is what happens on Night Walks when we see one…  It’s become a bit of a long-running joke that started when we discovered that the Long-horned beetles are actually called ‘Long-i-corn’… go figure!!  These cool beetles are what I would consider the cows of the beetle world.   They are usually brown, quite hairy, with big dark eyes and big horns…. Even their face looks a bit like a cow.

Their large size and interesting features make Longicorn Beetles a macro photographers joy to spot and photograph.  The fact that they have quite hairy bodies also mean that light from the flash will be absorbed and won’t reflect making it easier to get a good exposure without any hot-spots that you can get on other beetles with a shiny bodies.

A variety of different Longicorn beetles found on Let’s Go Buggin Tours.

Henrietta the Huntsman

Henrietta is a very large Giant Grey Huntsman Spider (Holconia immanis), that we first met in January on a large tree in the gardens.   She has been seen on most of our Night walks ever since we first met her.  She features on the Night Walks Mini-Documentary (link).   We saw her so often that we decided to name her.   In April, we noticed that her front 2 legs were missing, and we didn’t see her for a few weeks after that.  However, we are now pleased to report that after a few week’s absence, Henrietta is back again, and with 8 legs!  Spiders can grow back legs after a molt and it was great to see this happen with our lovely lady friend.  Those of you who have seen her on the night walks know that she is an impressive individual.  I look forward to introducing her to more of you soon.

Henrietta the Huntsman in March with six legs, and now in May with 8 legs again.  Photo credit Harlequin Photography

Jewel Bug (Calliphara regalis) aggregation Photography Tour Cairns

Jewel Bugs Aggregations

Some of you on recent tours may have seen the ‘Bug Party’ of Jewel Bugs (Calliphara regalis).  The first time I saw these I was absolutely blown away!  You can still see this instance on my Instagram Tours Highlights reel (link) where I witnessed 200 plus individuals gathered on the bottom of some palm leaves.  This year I have managed to see 4 separate aggregations in different locations in Cairns.

It seems as though these aggregations are normal behaviour for these bugs.  It has been documented that this species will collectively come together overwinter and then disperse again once the season starts to get warmer.  In anycase, I’ll be watching these ‘bug parties’ with a keen interest to see when they start to disperse.

The same aggregation of Calliphara regalis from different distances.

If you are interested in a Photography Tour in Cairns, please visit the Book A Tour page and we will see you on a Let’s Go Buggin our Soon!

Next Blog June.

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