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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.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 18-25 December 2020

One of the flies captured this week seems to have been parasitised by a nematode or other “worm” that has apparently hollowed out at least the interior of each compound eye. The fly had no wings remaining and the head was rotated through 180°. Finding information on parasites of insect eyes is very difficult since searches repeatedly return pages on insect parasites of human and animal eyes. Any information on clades that destroy the eyes of flies would be welcome. I assume that the parasite also controlled the fly’s behaviour to climb upward (and fall into the sampling bottle) despite being so badly compromised.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 11-18 December 2020

This week’s sample images again focus on the diversity of parasitic Hymenoptera appearing in the Malaise trap.

A new species for the trap was Ulonemia burckhardti (Hemiptera: Tingidae). The photo of the parallel sides to the channel on the underside that holds the rostrum at rest confirms that this is the correct species, according to the 2018 thesis by Ryan Shofner: Taxonomy and Phylogenetics of the genus Ulonemia Drake and Poor, 1937 (Heteroptera: Tingidae), with an emphasis on the population genetics of a pestiferous species. This thesis informally proposes the ultimate move of this species to a new genus named Proteatingis.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 4-11 December 2020

The week included a few cooler days and biomass in the trap was lower than the previous two weeks.

Photographs this week include several species ichneumonoid wasps that resemble others caught in recent weeks, but also many species not previously caught or photographed.

One of the cicadas caught this week and last week has been identified by David Emery as Yoyetta robertsonae Moulds, Popple & Emery 2020. The type locality for this recently described species is within meters of the Malaise trap. See the paper here: A new species of Yoyetta Moulds from south-eastern Australia with notes on relationships within the Yoyetta tristrigata species group (Hemiptera, Cicadidae, Cicadettini).

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 27 November to 4 December 2020

The trap continues to collect a wide diversity of insects in the new location. I’ve photographed a larger-than-usual selection, including several striking flies and wasps, and three different beetles from the family Mordellidae (tumbling flower beetles).

Many thanks to all those who have assisted with identifications on iNaturalist or in person.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 20-27 November 2020 (New location)

This was the first week running a Malaise trap at the new location selected for the remainder of the project. It was operated in parallel with the original Malaise trap (just 10 m further north). For the results from the original trap, see Araba Bioscan 20-27 November 2020 (Original location).

The new position is slightly higher up a slope and less screened by vegetation on the lower side. Differences in air movements and sight lines presumably contributed to such a massive discrepancy in insect volumes.

Termites swarmed on Saturday 21 and Sunday 21 November and were well represented in both traps. The new trap however caught much greater biomass and many more species, particularly Diptera and Hymenoptera. A selection of the more conspicuous or striking species are illustrated.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 20-27 November 2020 (Original location)

This was the final week operating a trap at the original location. A second Malaise trap was run in parallel this week around 10 m away and caught a much wider range of species – see the following post.

There was a swarming of termites on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 November and the bulk of insects in this trap were from this event.

The collecting medium was 95% isopropyl alcohol.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 13-20 November 2020

As with recent weeks, a relatively low number and diversity of insects (particularly when compared with the five-day test of a SLAM trap around 10 m away.

Over the next week, I will compare the current Malaise trap location with another Malaise trap located near the position used for the SLAM trap.

The collecting medium was 95% isopropyl alcohol.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan SLAM comparison 15-19 November 2020

SLAM trap
SLAM trap positioned for comparison with Malaise trap in the period 15-19 November 2020

There has been a noticeable imbalance in the insects collected in the Araba Bioscan Malaise trap to date. The vast majority of larger insects have been moths, with rather few flies or wasps. This week, I chose to add a second trap (a SLAM trap which operates like a small Malaise trap with four access quadrants instead of two sides) positioned around 10 m away in slightly more exposed spot. This page provides an overview of the material caught in this trap. The balance was very different with many more beetles, including three Euomma lateralis Boheman, 1858 (Tenebrionidae: Alleculinae) and one Pterohelaeus striatopunctatus Boisduval 1835 (Tenebrionidae: Tenebrioninae), and cockroaches, including one Robshelfordia circumducta (Walker, 1869) and seven Johnrehnia concisa (Walker, 1871) (both Ectobiidae: Blatellinae), and a larger number of insects overall. This was despite this trap only being deployed for less than five complete days.

This has encouraged me to set up a second Malaise trap in the position used for the SLAM trap and to compare this in the coming week with the original trap. Assuming a greater diversity of insects also occurs in the new Malaise trap, I will decommission the first one and effectively restart the clock on the project.

The collecting medium was 95% isopropyl alcohol.

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Araba Bioscan

Araba Bioscan 6-13 November 2020

It was much warmer than last week and this was reflected in a greatly increased number of insects in the Malaise trap, particularly gelechioid moths. Philobota cretacea Meyrick, 1884 was noted last week as recorded for the first time at the site despite years of recording moths at light. This week, two more were collected.

I have photographed a selection of flies, including three separate Muscoidea. These vary in size, wing markings and leg colouration. Images 3a, 3b, 3c and 4 illustrate two individuals of a larger species of Muscidae with wing spots. Images, 5, 6, and 7 show three individuals of a smaller species of Muscidae with plainer wings and yellow tarsi. Based on material in BOLD, this seems to be a common species widely collected and clustered as BIN BOLD:AAU5065. Images 8a and 8b illustrate an individual apparently of Anthomyiidae with plain wings and orange-brown front femurs. Thanks again to tony_d on iNaturalist for assistance with these flies.

The collecting medium was 95% isopropyl alcohol.