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Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Have Australians lost their fight against imported fire ants?

Despite $215 million being poured into eradication programs nationally, fire ants have claimed territory in an arc from Logan City, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, to near Grandchester, about 80km west of where the first outbreak was found at the Port of Brisbane in 2001.

Authorities now concede a new and even more expensive long-term campaign might be needed to stop them threatening our lifestyles.

I am curious as to how fire ants threaten the Aussie lifestyle, though. Do they eat Vegemite?

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Muscleman Tree Ant

Podomyrma sp.
Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia

Photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS D60
ISO 100, f13, 1/200 sec, flash diffused through tracing paper

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Tandem running in Camponotus consobrinus - photo by Steve Shattuck

I discovered while googling about this morning that Australian ant guru Steve Shattuck has been uploading some very nice photos to flickr.   With any luck we’ll be seeing some of these in a new incarnation of the Australian Ants book.

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Leptomyrmex rufipes, the red-footed spider ant. Queensland, Australia.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS D60
ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, flash diffused through tracing paper

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The blue-green iridescence on these Iridomyrmex purpureus workers shines from microscopic sculpturing on the ants' cuticle.

I’ve never taken to the Australian vernacular for one of their most conspicuous insects.  The latin Iridomyrmex purpureus translates as “purple rainbow ant”, referring both to the base color of the body and to the attractive metallic refractions on the cuticle.  But Aussies instead call this colorful species the “meat ant.” Crass by comparison.

On the other hand, it’d probably not do my reputation of masculine bravado much good were I to stroll into a dusty pub in the outback and announce my affection for “purple rainbow ants.”  Crikey! Meat ants it is, then.

A few more pics: (more…)

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There will always be enough love to go around. Just not enough bicycles…

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Rhipicera femorata
Victoria, Australia 

Here’s an insect with exceptional reception: Rhipicera, an Australian Dascilloid beetle.  Little is known about the biology of this species, but its North American cousins in the genus Sandalus are Cicada parasites- and there are certainly plenty of Cicadas down under.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon D60
f/13, 1/200 sec, ISO 100
MT24-EX twin flash diffused through tracing paper

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