Nerd alert! In my latest video I get rather excited about the arrival of the ‘rain moths’ (Trictena atripalpis). The first rains of autumn usually brings them out and this year it was spectacular!
These moths are quite harmless, but may vary in size from relatively modest to rather huge (depending on how much food they consumed while larvae). Just listen to the sound a large one makes as it crashes into my microphone!
I hope you enjoy the video – as usual it’s short and sweet! Let me know what you think.
If you want to learn more about these moths, you can read one of my earlier posts by clicking here.
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I know my title is a lazy reference to a scene from the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian, but I think it is appropriate given all the recent talk about the decline of insects around the world. Does it matter if all the insects disappear?
Many (most?) people only notice insects when those insects are affecting them directly and in a negative way, e.g. stinging them, biting them, annoying them with buzzing, or chewing on one of their beloved plants (like the Grapevine moth Phalaenoides glycinae larva below).
The vast majority of insects are not pests, nor are they what we might call beneficial insects (i.e. beneficial to us humans). Most insects are just out there doing their thing, being a part of their particular ecosystem, being part of the web of life. Insects play extremely significant roles in pretty much every terrestrial ecosystem on Earth. In fact insects are the biological foundation for terrestrial ecosystems.
Imagine a world without insects and you are imagining a world without many of our pollinators, and therefore many flowering plants. You are also imagining a world without many (most?) insectivorous fish, birds, bats and other small mammals. Then imagine the knock-on effect of losing those animals – for example, what fed on those particular fish or birds? On and on it goes.
A world without insects also means a world without most of the creatures which help break down and bury wood, carcasses and dung (dung beetles like the one pictured above are dung-burying specialists). If we lose the insects we also lose some important soil aerators and fertilizers – for example, in the arid parts of Australia termites and ants replace earthworms.
Maybe we shouldn’t be asking – what have insects ever done for us? Maybe we should just accept that insects are vitally important to the terrestrial ecosystems of this Earth. Maybe we should be asking – what have we ever done for insects?
I’m lucky to live in an area where Dainty Swallowtail butterflies occur. The larvae of these native butterflies have adapted to feed on cultivated citrus (such as lime and lemon) as well as native plants of the family Rutaceae.
So what do you do when big caterpillars are chewing chunks off your citrus leaves? Not a lot!
There is a line in my book Garden Pests, Diseases & Good Bugs which says: A citrus tree with a few chewed leaves is a small price to pay for the pleasure of observing beautiful swallowtails in the garden.
I hope you enjoy the video.
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