“A Blue banded bee at work.”

The Blue Banded Bee, photographed in Darwin city, Northern Territory is an Australian native bee with beautiful turquoise bands across its abdomen.
Photograph by ABC Open contributor africanrootz1
Source: A native bee at work – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

“Another Horrible Aussie Spider”.

A newly discovered species of saddleback trapdoor spider found in a previous Bush Blitz survey in the Judbarra/Gregory national park in the Northern Territory in June. Photograph: Suppki/AAP
Thirteen new species of spider have been discovered on Queensland’s Cape York peninsula – adding to the thousands of known species that give Australian wildlife its fearsome reputation.
The new species were found by scientists, teachers and Indigenous rangers during a 10-day journey to the largely unsurveyed area.
The survey is called the Bush Blitz and is a combined project of the Australian government, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia.
Maribyrnong primary school teacher Leslie Carr says she signed up to search the Olkola people’s traditional lands so she could relay her adventures to her students.
“It was a lot of digging, I was amazed,” Carr told reporters.
“I thought I’d get up there and they’d be crawling around. But they go down 20 to 30cm.”
Seven new species of Australian spider discovered including unique tarantula
The team used abalone knives to dig into the hard earth before swapping them for pen knives when they got closer to a silk-lined burrow.
The hard work paid off, with the discovery of the 13 new spider species which include a brush-footed trapdoor spider and the newly christened mouse spider, which lives in a stocking-shaped web.
Then there were the tarantulas. “There were ones as big as your hand, about 20 of them,” Carr said.
Now back home, the science teacher says the savannah-like environment was dotted with termite mounds and very dry.
“I’ve had kids coming up saying, ‘Oh, how could you let a spider crawl all over you?’” she says. “I tell them it was scary, but if you don’t threaten the spider, he’s not going to bite you.”
via As if Australia didn’t have enough spiders – 13 new species found in Queensland | Environment | The Guardian.

“The Weird Flashing Insect”.


Kate Umbers was hiking through Australia’s Snowy Mountains in the autumn of 2008, when she saw her first mountain katydid—a thumb-sized insect with the colour and texture of a dead leaf.
“I recognised it from the guide books and picked it up excitedly,” she says. “It immediately vomited and flashed its bright colours.”
Emphasis on bright. The insect’s dull brown wing casings flew apart to reveal vivid bands of red, black, and electric blue.
The inconspicuous leaf suddenly transformed into a garish Christmas bauble.
Many animals do something similar. When a threat gets close, they flash bright colours, show off distracting eyespots, strike aggressive poses, and spray off-putting chemicals.
They hiss, rattle, puff, and arch. These spectacles are called deimatic displays and they are supposedly meant to distract or intimate predators. Bright colours, in particular, are often messages that scream:
“I AM TOXIC; DO NOT EAT ME.” For some animals, these claims are bluffs. For the mountain katydid, they are genuine warnings—this insect is full of foul-tasting chemicals.
But Umbers noticed something unusual about its displays: the katydid only flashed its colours after an attack.
“I was struck by how easy it was to catch them and how little resistance they put up,” she says.
“They waited until they had been grabbed before revealing any defences.”
Read the full article via Why Does This Weird Insect Flash Warnings After An Attack? – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science.

“Leichhardt’s Grasshopper”.

leichardt_grasshopperA pair of Leichhardt’s grasshoppers mateing (Image: Craig Nieminskinski)
by Becky Crew
Seventy years passed before Leichhardt’s grasshopper was officially ‘rediscovered’ in 1971 by Principal Research Scientist of CSIRO’s Division of Wildlife Research, J. H. Calaby. Calaby had returned to South Alligator River, now protected within Kakadu National Park, to spot a single male nymph on a sandstone pediment.
While Calaby’s find meant that the species was not extinct after all, it remains particularly rare and little studied, with just a few fragile populations sustained by three native species of flowering shrub within the Kakadu and Keep River National Parks.
Bright colouring in insects usually signifies some level of toxicity, as does this species’ tendency to spew a brownish liquid when agitated, but chemical analysis has turned up little evidence that these grasshoppers are harbouring any toxic compounds.
And weirdly enough, the species has no known vertebrate predators, which suggests that rather than being toxic, the brownish spew’s purpose is simply to taste awful. Classic spew.
In 1996, chemists William Kitching and Mary Fletcher from the University of Queensland analysed the species’ host plants to find certain compounds that are associated with bitter-tasting glycoside sugar groups, so they suggested that by feeding on these plants exclusively, the species cements its reputation as a terrible meal.
via Leichhardt’s grasshopper – Australian Geographic.

“Gaudy Grasshopper”.

Photograph by Philippe Martin.
The most beautiful grasshopper in the world, Phymateus saxosus madagascariensis, is limited to medium-altitude regions of Madagascar.
The family of grasshoppers to which it belongs is commonly known as the gaudy grasshoppers.
See more great images via Surreal Portraits of Wildlife in Nature | DiscoverMagazine.com

“European Beewolves”.

beewolf_koehlerEUROPEAN BEEWOLVES: wasps that preys on bees, harbor symbiotic Streptomyces bacteria in specialized antennal reservoirs.
The bacteria are secreted into the wasps’ lair, later taken up by the wasp larva and applied to the larval cocoon where they produce antibiotics to protect the wasp offspring against pathogenic fungi.
Beneficial partnerships between microbes and animals like the European beewolf have inspired a rich body of research into the bioactive products of host-microbe interactions, which could have purpose in medicine and disease prevention.
CREDIT: Sabrina Koehler, Postdoc, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Read and see more via 2015 Cool Science Image Contest Winners | The Why Files.