Plant, scale & thrips

I love telling interesting insect stories and this one is a ripper! It involves a native plant, a species of scale insect and a thrips. It all starts with some white, waxy material that is quite common on a particular native plant in my area.

The story refers to the work of a couple of legendary entomologists:
William Miles Maskell and Laurence Mound

The scientific paper by Laurence Mound I refer to can be read here.

Have you ever seen this white waxy material on native plants?


Unusual insect life cycles: Bug basics #3

My latest YouTube video. Unusual insect life cycles: Bug basics #3.

Some insects, such as whiteflies and thrips, go through a life cycle that is in between complete (holometabolous) and incomplete metamorphosis (hemimetabolous). This ‘half way’ type of life cycle is known as ‘intermediate metamorphosis’.

Whiteflies are members of the family Aleyrodidae in the sap-sucking bug Order Hemiptera. The whitefly life cycle is egg, nymphs to adult. But the 4th instar nymph stops feeding, becomes opaque and becomes a ‘puparium’ – a pupa within a nymph skin. The adult whitefly forms inside the puparium and eventually emerges from it.

Thrips are in an insect order of their own, Thysanoptera, and there are more than 500 species described in Australia so far. The thrips life cycle goes from eggs through two actively feeding larval stages (instars) and two non-feeding stages, the prepupa and pupa, before becoming an adult.

I hope you enjoy the video.

What’s on these gum leaves?

My latest YouTube video: “What’s on these gum leaves?”

Gum trees are hosts to many different kinds of insects, but in this video I want to talk about the insects which form “lerps” on gum tree leaves. A lerp is the white sugary, waxy covering which the immature stages of certain psyllid insects produce from liquid excretions known as honeydew. That might sound yucky to some but psyllids are sap-suckers so the honeydew they excrete is just excess plant sugars.

Unfortunately several species of Australian psyllids have found their way overseas where they have become major pests in eucalypt plantations. I assume they entered those countries on plant material. The natural predators and parasites of lerp psyllids don’t occur in those countries, so they must import them.

But are they pests here in Australia? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.

I hope you enjoy the video.