Masters of Disguise and Camouflage

December 11, 2009 at 12:33 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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While looking for butterflies at the Alexandra Hospital garden, Itchyfingers also had some other interesting finds.

A cute tiny juvenile Changeable Lizard. I like this picture cos the way its tail
curled seemed to merge into the leaf…hahah

The Robber Fly, Family
Asilidae. Not sure why they are called robbers
though..haha. They are also called assassin flies, and  are widely distributed.
There are about 5000 species worldwide and about 900 species in North America.
Many species have long, tapering abdomens, sometimes with a sword-like ovipositor.
Some fat-bodied ones mimic bumble bees.. 😀

Busy like a bee… :p

I was so excited to see this…

You may just dismiss this as dried twigs dropped from trees, but how can
that be when it was sticked on the underside of a palm leave?

Actually this ‘twig package’ belongs to the moth family Psychidae, which is found worldwide – the Bagworm Moth, named for the baglike cases the larvae carry with them. The bag ranges in sizes and is constructed from silk and bits of leaves, twigs and other debris. This site says, “The strong-bodied male has broad, fringed wings with a wingspread averaging 1 in. (25 mm). The wormlike female lacks wings. Bagworm larvae often damage trees, especially evergreens.The female remains inside the bag her entire life; males are nimble fliers and in the fall fly around infested trees in search of a mate. During feeding, caterpillars emerge from the top of the bag and hang on to the host plant with their legs and sometimes with a silken thread; the bottom of the bag remains open to allow fecal material to pass out. Young larvae disperse, walking or using wind currents. During molts and pupation, caterpillars seal the bags.” This was the first time I saw this Bagworm Moth after reading about it. Saw it again during another walk with friends just three weeks ago. There is another kind of Bagworm Moth that has a pyramid-shaped bag. If you were to see leaves with almost perfectly-cut circles on them, try look at the undersides of the leaves, chances are you would be able to find these pyramid-shaped bags. Unfortunately, most of the times they were a bit too high so Itchyfingers don’t have any decent photos yet. 😦 This site has excellent photos of the larva constructing its ‘home’.

A nice little Praying Mantis nymph…It got its name because of the typical
‘prayer’-like stance of the forelegs… :p

I still remembered my first encounter with a real Praying Mantis was when
my colleague brought his pet mantis to work.. :p That was a large one and he
was showing us how his pet fed on a tiny frog… 😮
Read this interesting report
on reproduction of a Praying Mantis

Another interesting find was this – the Ant-Mantis. This is actually a
mantis mimicking ants

Now, why do mantis have to mimic ants? Well, ants are abundant all over the world and their predators, like birds and wasps, which rely on vision to identify preys will normally avoid them either because they are unpalatable or aggressive. Also, by mimicking ants, the mantis will be able to approach an unsuspicious ant to prey on..hahah…cunning.. :p There are many other insects that use ant mimicry for these reasons.

Licking its antenna like a typical Praying Mantis..

A short visit at the Alexandra Hospital but nevertheless a fruitful one! 😀 There are simply so much to learn and discover in nature, if only you are willing to spend time exploring! With the on-going school holidays, wouldn’t it be a much meaningful time spent learning more in the natural outdoor classrooms than wasting them away in shopping centres? :p

Also see related posts:
> A Visit to the Hospital
Mystery of a Moth Caterpillar
> Of Dragon and Lizards – Mistaken Identities #4
Changing Colours – Mistaken Identities #2
Living in Cold Blood – Mistaken Identities #1


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