Buggin with Bridgey – March 2024

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

New Observations in Sumatra!

A Red Giraffe Weevil sitting on a leaf. A new observation in Sumatra.

The inaugural Sumatra Photography Expedition was a huge success! I’m so grateful for the company of some lovely, interesting and beautiful people from around the world.  In the process of setting up these tours I felt compelled to censor the over-selling of the incredible diversity and abundance of critters that can be found.  However, within three days of my return to this incredible island I realised I could have.

This blog will feature some of the new encounters for me. Having been there twice previously, I observed some of the same species but it’s the surprises around every corner which makes this place so exciting.   I’m thinking that there will probably be another couple of Sumatra Blogs in the coming months but for now we’ll just start with the new observations.

Red Giraffe Weevil (Paratrachelophorus)

One of the highlights of new observations was an animal that has been on my ‘Wishlist’ for many years.  I managed to find a plant that had four or five of them happily munching on the leaves conveniently located in our jungle campsite.   I found I could get two or three shots before they decided to fly away. Typical shy Weevil behaviour, although most of them do the drop-and-roll, but this species flies away.

A Red Giraffe Weevil sitting on a leaf. A new observation in Sumatra.

Red Giraffe Weevil (Paratrachelophorus sp.)

Lantern Bug (Pyrops pythicus)

A group of bugs that has been on my Wishlist for many years are these incredible Lantern Bugs. I’m happy to report that we actually observed a few individuals but this was the first encounter, and by far my favourite shot of all of the Lantern Bugs we saw.  As to why it has this elongated snub-nose protrusion, unless I get corrected before I publish this, my guess is that it’s for attracting a mate.  They are much bigger that I anticipated at around six centimeters (1.5 Inches) from tip to tip.

Red, yellow and green spotted Lantern Bug sitting on a tree trunk.

Lantern bug (Pyrops pythicus)

Pale Giant Squirrel (Ratufa affinis)

The biggest Squirrel I’ve ever seen! The full length of this beautiful mammal would be over a metre long.  This species wasn’t on my radar of animals to observe, but it sure was a nice addition to the collection.   It appears they are diurnal (active during the day), and we were lucky enough to see two individuals very close to one another.  We even got to witness them communicating with each other with a series of chatters and groans.

A giant pale squirrel facing downwards down a huge tree trunk.

Pale Giant Squirrel (Ratufa affinis)

Emperor Moth (Samia insularis)

One of the more memorable encounters happened during the overnight stay in the jungle.  When we visited the creek at night I heard one of the participants yelling out… “Hey there’s a moth over here and it’s pissing! Yeah it’s really pissing!! It’s pissing continuously!”

I was busy photographing a spider at the time but as soon as I got the shot I headed over to see the moth that was supposedly ‘pissing’ and sure enough it was squirting water out its rear end every 10 seconds!  This perplexed us and it became known as the ‘Pissing Moth’. The next day when I got back into Wi-Fi I posted a video of this behaviour an ask the Instagram community if anybody knew what was happening. I got a couple of responses from Lepidopterists explaining that this is a normal behaviour where the moth will drink the liquid from a river extracting the minerals and nutrients within the water, then excrete the excess water.  It’s known as ‘mud puddling’.

This Genes of Moths are sometimes referred to as Lesser Atlas Moths as they are closely related, but a smaller size than the huge Atlas Moth (Atticus atlas).

A Lesser Atlas Moth mud-puddling. drinking the water and excreting the waste.

Emperor Moth (Samia insularis) ‘Mud-puddling’ in the creek.

Smith’s Gecko (Gekko albomaculatus)

Each time I’ve been to Sumatra I remember hearing a very distinctive sound usually coming from the hole of a tree or hidden somewhere in some wood. I was told it’s a Gecko but we never got the pleasure of seeing it.   On our last night walk into Gunung Leuser National Park we went to the location where I had heard the geckos previously. Our trusty tour guide leader Idris was able to find the gecko sitting about half a metre from the bottom of a tree trunk. The largest Gecko I’ve ever seen and it was such a delight to meet. We remember watching him slowly peel his suction-capped feet off the tree trunk and reposition them. It was quite magical to see.  Like a rap dancer systematically moving through the limbs one joint at a time.

Closeup of the head of a Smith's Gecko. A new observation in Sumatra.

Smith’s Gecko (Gekko albomaculatus)

Eastern Death’s Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia styx)

This genus has been made famous by being the obsession of Buffalo Bill’s character in the Silence of the Lambs book and movie.  Although this isn’t the exact species that is featured in the movie it is in the same Genus of Death Head Hawk Moths (Acherontia).   We observed this beauty on our last night walk in the Gunung Leuser National Park.  Like all Hawk Moths, was a decent size of around 7cm across (just under 2 inches).

Death Heads Hawk Moth on the ground.

Eastern Death’s Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia styx)

Western Mangrove Cat Snake (Boiga melanota)

One of the highlights was having a close encounter with this Mangrove Cat Snake. As with everything else in this blog it was a first-time encounter.  This snake is part of the Boiga Genus and has mild venom but it was a very relaxed individual and didn’t mind being handled by our snake handling participant.   A really stunning species!

Western Mangrove Cat Snake (Boiga melanota)

Flower Mantis (Theopropus)

Although I was aware of this species it wasn’t on my radar for Sumatra.  It was such an amazing surprise to see at our jungle campsite.  I believe this one is a fairly young individual.  Like most Mantises, it gave me some nice poses and looked at the lens when I was photographing it.  Another bonus was that it stayed completely still.

Green and white mantis with red eyes sitting on a leaf.

Flower Mantis (Theopropus)

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the examples of the new observations in Sumatra.   If you would like to take a deeper dive into some other encounters you can check out my Let’s Go Buggin Sumatra Project on iNaturalist here.   If you’d like to join one of the next Sydney Buggin Tours, please send me an Email.

Keen for a Let’s Go Buggin Tour? Use ‘BRIDGEYBLOG’ as the coupon code for 15% discount on your tour booking here.

Next Blog in late April.

🐸 📸 💚


Bridgette uses a variety of Olympus OM SYSTEM Cameras and Lenses