When is a bug not a bug?

By Dr Christine Lambkin

Did you know that during 2012-13, the Queensland Museum had nearly 13,000 enquiries through the Discovery Centre alone, that’s not including the number of people who contact staff directly. Of these enquiries, the highest numbers were for insects with nearly 3000. The next were reptiles with over 2000 enquiries. Based on this enormous number, the Queensland Museum decided to offer an Animal ID day as part of National Science Week Celebrations with a focus on these two groups.

Butterfly Man of Kuranda  D
Beetles from the Dodd collection housed at Queensland Museum

On Saturday, 23 August, the entomology department and herpetology department will be manning a booth at the Discovery Centre and answer your questions directly! In the lead up to the day, herpetologist Patrick Couper and I identified some animals for ABC 612 listeners, (listen to the full interview online here) which I thought I would share with you all.

Did you know that there are 200,000 different type of insect in Australia and that 70-75 per cent of those are undescribed, that means they don’t have a scientific species name. So it’s not unusual for entomology to answer questions about anything and everything! From caterpillars, which are quite difficult to lacewings, wasps, true bug nymphs, beetles that look different such as paropsines and lerps, to health- insects in food, and bites.

Below are some of the animals we helped identify for ABC 612 listeners.

Red Triangle slug

This one was a bit of a slimy request, but quite an easy one. The slug is Family Athoracoporidae – a Red Triangle slug – Triboniophorus graeffei currently, but probably are multiple species under that name.

Monkey-faced Jumping spider

Spiders don’t actually fall underneath the Entomology banner, but we included this because it’s a cute one. Our senior curator (arachnids) Dr Robert Raven identified this little guy as a Monkey-faced Jumping spider, Mopsus mormon, you can see this guys in many Queensland Museum booklets.

Black and Green Bug
Fiddler beetle

This is a beetle, not a bug, and it’s the Fiddler beetle Eupoecila australasiae, commonly known as the fiddler beetle or rose chafer, is a colourful green- or yellow-and-black member of the scarab beetle family from eastern Australia. You can find this guy in eastern Australia and southeastern South Australia and will probably find them in heathland and eucalypt woodland, as well as suburban parks and gardens.

Green Bug
Hedge Grasshopper

This is not a bug, but a grasshopper, more specifically a Hedge Grasshopper, Valanga irregularis. You will find him in coastal south-east Queensland and from northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland to northern New South Wales. It’s one of the world’s largest species of the family Acrididae.

Gardenia Bee Hawk

And finally this is a Gardenia Bee Hawk, Cephonodes kingii, a moth of the Sphingidae family. It is found in the northern two thirds of Australia.

The wingspan is about 40 mm. Adults resemble bumble bees. They are mostly green with a yellow abdomen and a black band around the first few abdominal segments, and a dark mark on the next segment. Wings are mostly transparent. Adults feed on flower nectar.

Remember if you have an insect or reptile you would like identified, come along to the Queensland Museum & Sciencentre on Saturday, 23 August, and bring your photos and specimens to be identified. We would prefer online bookings to guarantee that you will be seen and spoken to. Click here to book.