Friday, 11 March 2011
A soldier mating frenzy
Its been far too long since I last posted. In that time all the bark has been falling off the Eucalyptus trees as we are nearing the end of summer, so that they are now all quite naked.
Apparently the process of bark shedding is accelerated after rain, as the bark softens and peels more easily. Today was a wet day in the gardens - I love wet days. The gardens are always quiet on those days (without people), but very much alive, I feel certain the birds all come out to play after the rain. Today there were lots of little birds flitting around near the garden gate and I managed to get a picture of two fast movers I've not managed to capture before, a pretty little Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus and a Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa, which has a very acrobatic flight.
As I was taking a photo of some striking Eucalyptus on the Eucalypt Lawn, I noticed that where the bark was peeling from the tree lots of beetles had gathered. Looking closely I saw they were all coupled up, it was a beetle orgy! These are Green Soldier Beetles Chauliognathus sp., also known as Plague Solider Beetles - they are known to gather together in large numbers for the purpose of breeding. Some amusing stories I found on the web - one report that in February 2009 a school in the Blue Mountains closed its library when so many beetles were found over the walls. The Australian Museum writes that although the beetles may gather in huge numbers on plants they are far more interested in mating than eating, so don't pose much threat as a pest!
So, where the old bark peels off the Eucalyptus trees the beetles gather to create new life, the circle of life goes on.