Wild Windellama

by Paul Alessi

December 2005

This is this last Wild Windellama for the year, my first year as editor
for the column, One of the most enjoyable things
for me has been the many positive comments and
interesting feedback regarding unusual plants and animals and
even a few bushwalks on readers properties.

At the Windellama Small Farms Field Day I was shown
a very rare white flower from a patch of what should be purple
flowered Patersonias ( Purple Flag ) and a few months before
another reader gave me a sample of a plant that I'd not seen before,
 it is the groundcover Neopaxia australasica which has
 3 lobed daisy like flowers, this sample has been transplanted to
our garden to see how it performs in cultivation.

It has been a great spring with a procession of native trees and shrubs
flowering more vigourously than they have in a very long time, the grasses
are starting to run to seed so it looks like a good season for all.

It's not that long ago that there was not an insect to be seen, even
the red meat ants were deep in their nests but the warmer months
are not only the best time to appreciate the flowering plants but also
the huge variety of insects that rely on those flowers to for their survival.

Beetles (Coleoptera)
Are the most numerous of the world's species with about 350,000
named so far, this a greater number of species than all the plants and 
fungi added together. Australia has around 30,000 species of beetles
so there is still much unknown about them.
Over the years I have found a few unusual beetles just the one time only.

One summer what we call pumpkin beetles massed in heaps so heavily 
on our neighbours property that the branches of wattle trees were bent down
to the ground, even snapping some branches off with their combined weight,
it would not be an exaggeration to estimate the mass of these insects in a 50
metre area to have been in the hundreds of kilos.

In our family we settled on the unscientific name Aardvark to describe beetles
that look like our featured critter and even these come in great variety, some
we find on Wattles in summer have irredescent blue/green colouring and last
week I found a plain coloured Aardvark that had enourmous feet like snowshoes.
Our blue/green Aardvarks are probably Chrysolopus spectabilis that
have the common name of Botany Bay Weevil but you're not likely to
find one of these floating about in your breakfast serial, the beetle
in the picture is likely to be the species known in text books as Wattle Pig (Leptiopius sp.)
but I reckon he would be happier being called an Aardvark.

Some of our beetles grunt or squeak especially when handled and of course
we all know click bugs can be a lot of fun.
When you are out and about this summer don't forget to have a closer look at our beetles. 


Copyright Paul Alessi 2005