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This is an insect portal... because INSECTS ARE CRITICAL! 
Their presence  and absence tell us a lot about the health of ecosystems.
The more we look and learn, the more we can understand how to respond. Looking after insects looks after other creatures and our precious flora.

In mid 2023, we were at the Hindmarsh planting. There we met the excellent Fabian Douglas, and struck good conversation. 
From there, emails were exchanged, Vicky sent Fabian her photos, and this page grew. What fortune!

Fabian is a renowned entomologist with enthusiasm and incredible experience, and his connection with Nillumbik goes way back.

Read on to discover incredible insects that need our attention and love.

Each one of us can spread the word, and enable better outcomes for biodiversity.


Heteropsilopus ingenuus

From Fabian:

Your attached photo is of Heteropsilopus ingenuus, the Stripe-wing Long Legged Fly, Family Dolichopodidae. Apparently, there is not much known about the early stages of this family but the larvae are aquatic or semi aquatic. Some species have larvae that live in wet sand or mud where they are thought to be predacious on very small invertebrates while the larvae of other species are believed to be leaf miners of aquatic plants. I have seen these beautiful little flies on many occasions. However, I have not been lucky enough to have photographed any yet.

VS160 (3) bigger.jpg

Eristalinus punctulatus

From Fabian:

Your attached photo is an excellent one of a Native Drone Fly (a.k.a. Golden Native Drone Fly), Eristalinus punctulatus, Family Syrphidae (the hoverflies). The adults of this species are important pollinators of many plants The larvae are known as Rat Tailed Maggots and live in nutrient rich stagnant water. The curious looking tail like appendage at the rear end of the larva is actually a tube through which it breathes. I was not able to find any information about what the larvae actually feed on but they could possibly be detritus feeders.        

VS134b (3) Eristalinus punctulatus.jpg


Extracts from Fabian:

Hi again Vicky,

I realise that you already knew what the Calomantispa venusta (Mantispa Lacewing) was when you sent me the photo of it ... thanks so much for sharing it with me... I have never found one myself and I am now 70 years old.

The colouration of this extraordinary species suggests that it is a reverse mimic of the common and very distasteful to predators Tricolour Cantharid Beetle, Chlauliognathus tricolor.

Calomantispa venusta. VS204.jpg

The reason why I say that it is a 'reverse mimic' of Chauliognathus tricolor is that in Calomantispa venusta the black tip of the abdomen resembles the head of the beetle, its orange posterior abdominal segments resemble the beetle's prothorax, the metallic bluish-green area on its wings resembles the beetle's elytra and the yellow area of its wings that surrounds the bluish-green area looks like the edges of the beetle's abdomen.

Chauliognathus tricolor, Cantharid Beetle. Minimay, Vic. 54H 0525229 5936953, 25 Feb. 2017

Chlauliognathus tricolor

The final part of the deception is that the head and thorax of the Calomantispa are cryptically and disruptively coloured so that in a natural setting, a foraging bird would only notice the brightly coloured wings and abdomen in the same colours as a Tricolour Cantharid Beetle! See the attached photo of the beetle model for this extraordinary case of potential mimicry. BTW, I did a bit of research on the early stages of Calomantispa and it turned out that not much is known. However, it is thought that its larvae are mobile predators of other smaller insects

Incidentally, there is also a jewel beetle (Castiarina kerremansi) that is (coincidentally) a reverse mimic of Chauliognathus tricolor as well. It occurs widely in S.E. mainland Australia and can be seen during the summer months visiting the flowers of Bursaria spinosa and Leptospermum species.
So, I hope that you have found this info. interesting...?



Echthromorpha intricatoria

Extracts from Fabian:

It is a White-spotted Ichneumonid Wasp, Echthromorpha intricatoria (family Ichneumonidae). This species is a parasitoid of the pupae of Lepidoptera.
I did a search for the species on 
iNaturalist Australia and found out that are quite a few photos of it and that it likes to parasitize the pupae of nymphalid butterflies 
(i.e. Yellow Admiral, Australian Painted Lady and Meadow Argus etc.).


Note from Vicky - the photo from above showing bluish wings is in natural light (late afternoon, under trees, dimly lit). I used a torch for the other pics, giving a rather different view.

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