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Go turtles!

January 23, 2022

The gum leaves in summer seem to be decorated with their own Xmas ornaments – a variety of lumps and bumps. These adornments are usually due to insects that lay their eggs either in or on the leaves, insects such as gall wasps, sawflies and eucalyptus bugs. One decoration that caught my eye this year appeared to be a type of ruff encircling a eucalypt stem (pictured left). The structure, presumably an egg case was hard to identify on the internet. As pointed out in an earlier blog it is hard enough to identify an adult insect from a photo, let alone its young or worse still its eggs – if indeed it was an insect that caused it.

In such a case the tried and true method of simply waiting and watching the object was called for although a more thorough search of the same tree revealed other egg clusters, some more advanced in the lifecycle. Luckily the waiting phase was minimized.

The photograph above shows that out of one such cluster small grubs emerged and then made their way along the stem to the nearest leaf where they joined their ‘hatching cohort’ devouring gum leaves. These are the larvae of Eucalyptus Leaf Beetles, beetles that sort of look like Ladybird Beetles but are bigger (click HERE for related blog).

The life of the grub however is not easy. There are all sorts of perils along the way. Pictured right is a predatory Shield Bug nymph attacking a beetle grub. It stabs the grub with its rostrum through which it pumps in digestive juices and then sucks out the nutrients.

It was like watching one of those nature documentaries where young turtles hatch and try and make their way down the beach to the safety of the ocean before the seagulls eat them. I always root for the turtles. This grub didn’t make it.

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