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Spotlighting Spin

Species Spotlighting Special  

Maria Miller

December 15th, 2021, from 7 - 10 p.m.

 What a great way to end a full year* by merging virtual and real worlds while investigating night critters in the forest.

Twenty-eight folks from across the SEQ community gathered for an evening of discoveries on the western side of Mt. Coot-tha. We were based at the Hut, as THECA hosted the event.

Reps from the SEQ Spider fb group with great macrophotography skills, UQ PhD candidate Jessa Thurman (and entomologist Andrew Maynard), Wild BNE blogger Christian Perrin and Great Southern BioBlitz contributor Natasha Taylor where in the mix and made the evening worthwhile by sharing expertise and documenting finds.

Don Sands joined us with a specimen of an unknown species of Cossid moth (the larvae bore into trees).  There certainly is more to understand about moths, especially wood moths in our area. Click the link for more on Wood Moths. *Digression* I actually ate a witchetty grub while living in Yuendumu in the early 1980s, not really knowing anything about the creature it would have become. If you are intrigued, see Australian Museum info on Bush tucker. It was tasty toasted over coals on an open fire, and high in protein.

After a briefing in the Hut, we broke into four groups. A larger group led by Christian Perrin, comprised of families with young children. We were instantly captivated by the Botany Bay Weevil and Christian’s detailed explanations as we walked along the Rose Robin loop from the Hut. Wolf spiders, orb weavers, a single Cressida Cressida egg on a low scrambling vine and Boobook call motivated us along the trail. The youngsters were able to spot various lichen types - corals of the forest, and clean air indicators - as well as termite mounds.

A second smaller group, with Natasha at the helm, walked clockwise starting at the Honeyeater end. They too, came across the 30 runners with headlamps in addition to plenty of insects, spiders, and a scorpion they spotted using a UV torch (including a moult, ‘skin’ left behind when the scorpion grows). Keep your eyes peeled for a February Newsletter item by Margaret Palmer, as she was in this group.

The SEQ Spider members wandered off in search of quiet spaces where invertebrates, especially arachnids, might reveal themselves. They certainly found some spectacular specimens. 

Staying behind to tend the light-sheet equipment (kindly on loan from Geoff Monteith), were Jessa and Andrew. They welcomed us upon our return with an intriguing display. While Jessa and Andrew did not record the number of insects in a systematic way, they report that several varieties of insects appeared on the light-sheet. Most notably, there were several owlflies, stink bugs, and many moths. One wood moth (Culama australis) was found. This species is one of the many small species of wood moths and is one of the more common varieties. While none of the larger wood moths were attracted to our light-sheet, Jessa suggested there is evidence of them on Mount Coot-tha and future surveys should look out for them. 

We marvelled at the range of insects and moths attracted to the sheet, but the Emperor Gum Moth who settled on a shrub near the light was certainly the most photographed creature. Everyone shared stories of insect encounters. Such a group effort!

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 Check out the results on the iNaturalist project Mount Coot-tha and Surrounds, documenting diversity and distribution in the area.

We truly appreciate your engagement.

Please consider joining THECA or an environmental group near you in 2022!

*2021 Newsletter content can be found under the Publications Tab. Copy for the February 2022 Newsletter is due January 5th.

Support for community activities gratefully received from Brisbane City Council and the Jane Scragg bequest.