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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 19-26 February 2021

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Australia Pterophoridae

Nippoptilia vitis in Queensland

At present, the Australian Faunal Database lists only one species from the genus Nippoptilia (Pterophoridae: Pterophorinae: Platyptiliini) as known to occur in Australia, Nippoptilia cinctipedalis (Walker, 1864). This species was added to the Australian list by Ernst Arenberger in 2006 and is now frequently recorded by observers down the east coast of the country, from Thursday Island in Far North Queensland to Tinonee in New South Wales, as well as from Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory.

Nippoptilia cinctipedalis is a highly distinctive member of its genus, with the first forewing lobe tapering to a point rather than showing a clear termen, and with a tawny ground colour and prominent darker brown markings on the dorsum of segments 2-3, 5 and 7 of the abdomen.

Alongside these moths, several individuals have been photographed from Nhulunbuy (NT) and Witta (QLD) that show the characteristic appearance of the remaining members of the genus, darker ground colouration, narrow forewings with a well-defined and angled termen and an overall ‘spiky’ appearance from the long tibial spurs and pointed wingtips.

Examples from Nhulunbuy:

Examples from Witta:

Two specimens were collected from Witta on 27 January 2021 for dissection, from a population feeding on a native grape vine, Cayratia clematidea (F.Muell.) Domin. Both these moths were female with genitalia matching those presented for Nippoptilia vitis (Sasaki, 1913) in the paper A taxonomic review of the genus Nippoptilia (Lepidoptera: Pterophoridae) from Korea, with description of a new species. This is based on the extraordinary lateral tufts of scales on either side of the antrum, the notched tip of the antrum and the narrow leaf-like signa on the corpus bursae.

The following are placeholder images to document the occurrence and validate the identification. I hope to provide better images once the genitalia have been properly mounted on slides.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 12-19 February 2021

This week, I’ve returned to 95% isopropyl as the sampling medium. Once results back from samples collected using both isopropyl and denatured ethanol, it will be easier to decide which to use longer term.

After many weeks during which Ichneumonidae were prominent, there was only one (I think) this week (and also no Blattodea). All the ichneumonid species that have been prominent for some weeks were absent. Compare samples from the last month, for which I have photographed every ichneumonid I found (based on my current identifications, 16, 3, 11 and 12 individuals in the last four weeks).

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 5-12 February 2021

This was the second of a two-week test of use of Australian denatured ethanol as the collecting medium. I will return to isopropyl again for the next few weeks, awaiting feedback from Guelph on the first isopropyl samples submitted.

Many thanks to Charles Godfray for the first non-spam comment submitted to this blog.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 29 January to 5 February 2021

This week, the sample was collected using 95% denatured ethanol. This is a test of the effect of the denaturing compound used in Australian ethanol (Denatoium Bensonate 5ppm MIBK) on samples for barcoding.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 22-29 January 2021

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 15-22 January 2021

This week’s sample included three individuals of a Ulonemia (Hemiptera: Tingidae) species that seems not to be Ulonemia burckhardti, which had already been recorded. According to Shofner 2018 that species has “metasternal carinae straight, parallel, width equal to mesosternal carinae”, whereas the new insects show significant widening of these carinae relative to the mesosternal carinae.

A Camponotus specimen in the sample was heavily infested with small dark discs, apparently the spores of a fungus, most likely Myrmicinosporidium durum, although all records of this parasite to date seem to be from the northern hemisphere.

The sample also included the first plume moth for the project, one individual of Stenoptilia zophodactylus (Duponchel, 1840), a species of near-global distribution.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 8-15 January 2021

I’ve been trying to include images of interesting species that recur on multiple weeks in the hope that this makes it easier for me to understand phenology and seasonal change in community composition. I expect increasingly to use portmanteau images that show several of these species at once. For the time being, I’ve added some functionality so I can quickly crop smaller images from the views of the entire sample and use these to highlight these records.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 1-8 January 2021

This week’s sample included the first mantis, the first representatives of the wasp families Gasteruptiidae and Mymaridae and the first “dustywing” (Neuroptera: Coniopterygidae) for the project.

I also changed the aperture on the DSLR image of the sample to improve the depth of field and (finally) put a little effort into white(r) balance for the stereomicroscope photos.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 25 December 2020 to 1 January 2021

This week’s images again focus on Hymenoptera in the sample, with several interesting Tiphiidae and large numbers of smaller wasps (Pteromalidae, Chrysididae, etc.).

Among the chrysidoid wasps were one male and one female of the subfamily Elasminae (Eulophidae). The pale hind tibiae of the female clearly show the diamond pattern that Riek, 1967 offers as diagnostic for the genus Elasmus. The female seems to key out cleanly as Elasmus margiscutellum Girault, 1915, a species recorded from Canberra (Mount Majura). The male seems close to Riek’s description of the male of Elasmus aquila Girault, 1912, particularly in the enlarged posterior bristles on the scutellum, although that species has pale fore coxae. The male of Elasmus margiscutellum is not described in Riek.