The Insect Group includes four categories of arthropods - Butterflies, Moths, Other Insects and Spiders.
Butterflies and Moths make up the Order of Lepidoptera. Although there are relatively few butterflies - just over 400 Australia-wide and many less on the south coast - they are well known as they fly in the day time and many are prominently coloured. On the other hand, there are more than 22,000 species of moths in Australia and so vastly more moths than butterflies in our area. The majority of moths are nocturnal and more plainly coloured than butterflies, but there are nevertheless many brightly coloured ones some of which can be seen in the daytime. They include the micromoths with wingspans of only a centimetre or two and which numerically make up the large majority of moth species.
Over 60 species of moths are aready recorded in the Atlas of Coastal Wilderness. When taking photos of moths, it is usually easiest to obtain images of the upperside (dorsal) view of the wings. but a closeup image of the head showing the antennae and even the mouthparts below the head makes the identification process much easier for some hard-to-identify species.
Butterflies and moths are the adult stage of the lifecycle (so it is important to note that if you see a small one, it is not going to grow larger, it will stay the same size!). These adults are the life stage responsible for the reproduction and dispersal of the species; the females lay eggs singly or in clusters on or near the larval food plant; these eggs then hatch into larvae (caterpillars), which are the life stage responsible for eating and growing; these then form a pupa where the larval stage transforms into the adult. Some species will overwinter as eggs, or as larvae, or as pupae. Some species are migratory and do not overwinter here at all, and some species are only occasional vagrants to our area.
There are many Orders of Other Insects: ants, wasps, bees and sawflies; grasshoppers, crickets, locusts and earwigs; flies, dragonflies and lacewings; bugs and cicadas; cockroaches, termites, mantids and stick insects; and the most numerous one of all, the beetles. There are very many species present in our area that are not yet recorded in the Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness.
Spiders are different from other arthropods in that the usual body segments are fused into two tagmata, which are joined by a small, cylindrical pedicel. They have eight legs and fangs that inject venom. Unlike insects, spiders do not have antennae. Their abdomens bear appendages that have been modified into spinnerets that extrude silk. Spider webs vary widely in size, shape and the amount of sticky thread used. A herbivorous spider has been described, but all other known species are predators, mostly preying on insects and on other spiders, although a few large species also take birds and lizards.
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