Brisbane Insects and Spiders Home Page
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Insects Evolution
 
Ephemeroptera
Mayflies
Odonata
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Damselflies
Blattodea
Cockroaches
Mantodea
PrayingMantids
Orthoptera
Grasshoppers
Phasmatodea
Stick Insects
Hemiptera
Aphids and Scale Insects
Cicadas
Planthoppers
Bugs  
Stink Bugs
Neuroptera
Lacewings
Coleoptera
Beetles
Scarab Beetles
Ladybirds
Longicorn Beetles
Leaf Beetles
Weevils Beetles
Mecoptera
Scorpion Flies
Diptera
Flies
Robber Flies
Bee Flies
Tachinid Flies
Lepidoptera
Parasite Wasps
Predatory Wasps
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Brisbane Insects and Spiders Home Page

Welcome to Brisbane Insects and Spiders home page. 

We are the Chew's family. Our interest is to study insects and spiders near our local area in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. We go to the bush on weekends to watch and study insects and spiders. Details of what we are doing please check our Blog

As the non-professionals, we recorded and commented on what we found. On the following pages, we are NOT going to tell you insects and spiders are different because they have six or eight legs, NOR the butterflies and moths are different because they have different antennae etc., because we sure you know all about this. Instead, by discussions, we try to find out why there are differences. We try to find out more about insect Evolution.

Please proceed and look at our works. Don't forget to give us some comments.


Order Ephemeroptera 
 
Mayflies - Mayflies are a group of quite uncommon insects. We did not found many of them in Brisbane. They are considered to be one of the most primitive insect order. They have large forewing and small to absent hind wings. They have large eyes and very short antenna. They can be distinguished by their three long abdominal appendages. Their larvae live in fresh water. Adults usually live only a few hours, or some species maximum one day or two.
 
 

Order Odonata 
 
Damselflies - Damselflies are usually smaller than Dragonflies and with slender body. They spend more time to rest and not flying in air than the dragonflies. When they are at rest, damselflies usually fold up and hold their wings vertically. Damselflies lay their eggs in flash water where the larva grow. Larvae need fairly precise habitat and sensitive to water pollution. Adult is a predator in the sky and preying on flying insects. Larva may spend one to three years in water, depend on species, while adults live only a few weeks.
 
 
 
Dragonflies - Dragonfly bodies are long and slender, usually with bright metallic colour. All of them have two pairs of membranous wings. Their hind wings and forewings are more or less similar size and shape. When they are at rest, dragonflies held out theirs wings horizontally. Dragonflies are strong flyer and spend most of the time in air. Their larvae live in fresh water. They have very small antennae but very large compound eyes. Their mouths are very good at biting.
 
 

Order Blattodea
 
Cockroaches - Not all cockroaches are ugly. Most of them are beautiful insects although this perception is always outweighed by their name "cockroaches". Most cockroaches have long legs, and with antennae longer than the body. Their body is usually flat and broad. Adults may have or no wings. If they have, the wings are membranous with toughened forewings which overlap left over right. The head is small and pointing downwards, concealed under the pronotum. So sometime their thorax are miss-considered as their big heads.
 

Order Mantodea
 
Praying Mantids - Mantids are predators to other insects, with strong forelegs which have spines. They have strong mouthparts for chewing. Their eyes are large and well apart on each side of their mobile head, so that they can locate precisely their prey at close distance. Most mantids sit and wait among the vegetation ready to grasp unsuspecting prey by their powerful forelegs. They wait motionless with their forelegs together and this gave them their name of Praying Mantids.
 

Order Orthoptera
 
Crickets and Katydids - Their hind legs are highly developed, much stronger and larger than the other four legs. They are very good in jumping. The adults insects have four wings, the front wings, knows as tegmina, is tough and narrow when compare with the hind wings. Crickets and Katydids have very long antennae, some may be several times of their body length. The auditory organs located on the fore legs. Their stridulation are produced by the mechanisms on the base of their forewings. The females usually have long ovipositors extended from the end of their abdomen.
 
 
Grasshoppers - Grasshoppers hind legs are highly developed, much stronger and larger than the front four legs. They are very good in jumping. The adults insects have four wings, the front wings, knows as tegmina, is tough and narrow when compare with the hind wings. Grasshopper's antennae are not very long. Most species feed on grass and low bushes. The auditory organs are on the first segment of their abdomen. They produce their love song, the stridulation, by lateral part of their forewings. Females normally larger than males and with short ovipositors.
 

Order Phasmatodea 
 
Stick Insects - Stick insects are large to very large insects. They tend to resemble sticks and twigs, usually they are green to brown in colour. Some of them look like leaves. They spend most of their time hanging motionless in plants. Even if they move, they sway slightly, as if caught by the movement of the wind. They are not easily seen for their camouflage. Stick insects have powerful mandibles. They are herbivorous, they eat plant leaves only, usually feed on broad-leaved plants. In general, females are much larger than males. The male can fly, but the female can only glide.
 

Order Hemiptera
 
Aphids, Scale Insects and Mealy Bugs - There are many families in the suborder Sternorrhyncha (Soft Bugs). Aphids are small size with soft body, usually wingless. Most species have a pair of posterior at the abdomen. Like most other bugs they are sap-sucking insects. Scale Insects covered with wax secretion and do not look like insect. Young scale insects may still have some insects appearance but when they grow, most of their external organs reduced. Mealy Bugs are flat with waxy excretions of white powdery substance. They seldom move and feed in the same way as aphids and scale insects.
 
Cicadas and Leafhoppers - Cicadas are familiar in Brisbane because their 'song' is the back ground noise here in summer. Their empty shells often seen on tree trunks and fences.  The young nymphs live underground suck the roots of trees. They may live underground for years, come up from soil in summer, have the final moulting and leave those empty shells. Leafhoppers are small, plants feeding insects. They can be found on tree trunks, stems and leaves. They feed by sucking the sap of plants. All of them jump, so their name hoppers. Some of their adults are active flyer.
 
 
Planthoppers - Planthoppers are small, plants feeding insects ranging in colour from green, through yellow-green to brown. They can be found on tree trunks, stems and leaves. They feed by sucking the sap of plants. All of them jump, so their name hoppers. Their antennae situated beneath eyes. Wax plates common in females for producing wax to cover eggs. The nymphs usually have two long tails. Nymph and adult feed by sucking the sap of the host tree.
 
 
 
True Bugs - All bugs suck juice from plants or other insects. They are incomplete metamorphosis and their young, the nymphs, look much the same as their adults excepts smaller and wingless. They usually have flat and soft bodies. Their forewings are toughen on the base area and with a membranous tip part. Their antennae are well developed with up to five segments. Most of them are from small to medium size. Most species of true bugs have stink glands. These glands usually give off a foul odor when the insect is disturbed.
 
 
 
Stink Bugs - Any shield-shaped insect of the superfamily Pentatomoidea, especially any of the family Pentatomidae called Shield Bug. They also called Stink Bug. They have stink glands. These glands usually give off a foul odor when the insect is disturbed. Sting bugs have the common characteristic of their sucking mouths. All of them suck juice from plants or other insects. They usually have flat and soft bodies. Their forewings are toughen on the base area and with a membranous tip part. Their antennae are well developed with up to five segments.

Order Neuroptera
 
Lacewings - Lacewings have two pairs of transparent wings of about the same size. Although they are not very good flier, their wings are large and membranous, with complex vein pattern. This is why they are called Lacewings. Their bodies are long and soft. They have the biting and chewing mouthparts. They are the predators of other insects. Their size is from very small as 5mm to wings spans as large as 150mm. The famous Antlions are in this order. Antlion is the common name given to the larvae of  those insects. The larvae build sand traps to trap the ants walk by.
 

Order Coleoptera 
 
Beetles - Beetles, order Coleoptera, is the largest and most diverse order of insects. Their size is ranges from 0.5mm to 200mm. J.B.S. Haldane's famous comment on beetles has been quoted many times. During a lecture on the biological aspects of space flight given in 1951. Haldane remarked that "the Creator, if He exists, has a special preference for beetles, and so we might be more likely to meet them than any other type of animal on a planet that would support life". All beetles have hard forewings, called elytra, which do not do much help in flying but cover the membranous hind wings and protect the abdomen.
 
Scarab Beetles - The beetles in this family are usually medium to large size, occasionally with bright colour. They have distinctive lamellate antennae which opens like a small fan and they can close it together as a compact club. Beetles in other families may have the similar lamellate antenna but they cannot close it. Legs, especially the fore coaxes, are usually shaped good for digging. Adults beetles usually feed on leaves and flowers. Most of them  have functional wings and are active flyers.
 
 
Ladybirds - Ladybird Beetles are also known as Ladybugs and Lady Beetles. The adults are oval domed in shape. Like all beetles, their hard forewings cover the membranous hind wings and protect the abdomen. Their legs and their clubbed antenna are short, which are usually hidden beneath their bodies when disturbed. Most Ladybird Beetles are brightly colored. This is a warning signal to tell the predator that the ladybirds are distasteful and toxic. When disturbed some ladybirds may emit a strong smelling yellow liquid as a deterrent against predators.
 
 
Longicorn Beetles - All members in this family are commonly called Longicorn Beetles. They have very long antennae, typically 11 segmented. Their antenna can directed backwards over their body. Adults are active fliers. Their body usually elongated and cylindrical in shape. Their legs are medium long. They have obvious strong mandibles for chewing, many feed on flowers. Most Longicorn Beetle larva are wood borers. Usually they are host specific of living or dead trees. Their life cycles are from few months to more than a year.
 
 
Leaf Beetles - Leaf beetles adults usually range in size from 5 to 15 mm in length and brightly coloured. They have different body shapes from elongate or flattened to globular. Some may be mistaken for ladybird beetles due to their oval shape. Their antenna usually less than half the length of their bodies. Most of the Leaf Beetle we found were feeding primarily on eucalypts and acacias. Both the adults and larvae eat plant material, store those plant chemicals in their body, and are poisonous to the predators. There is no wonder why most of them  are with bright warning colour.
 
 
Weevils Beetles
Insects in this group are commonly called weevils. Adults have the elongation of the head to form a rostrum and modified mouth parts. They usually have a rigid body. Their antennae are always clubbed and some are elbowed. Generally the rostrum has elongated groove on each side for the reception of the antennae. Weevil larvae are usually legless grubs or with very minute legs. They have hard round head and often blind. They feed on vegetable parts includes wood, bark, shoots, buds, leaves and roots, some are on grain and stored vegetable products.
  

 
Order Mecoptera
 
Scorpion Flies - Scorpion flies look similar to true flies, however, they have two pair of wings. Their males have the end of the abdomen curved and held forward, very much like that of a scorpion's sting, so their name Scorpion fly. Scorpion flies are predatory insects. When waiting for prey, they hang from plants by their front legs with the other legs positioned ready to catch any prey insect that passes by. They are very conspicuous on the plants and not easily noticed. They have their strong hind legs to catch prey. Their larvae look like caterpillars. They live in loose soil or debris.
 

  
Order Diptera
 
Flies and mosquitoes - The insects in this order have only one pair of membranous flying wings. The second pair of wings are reduced to small knobs, for the purpose of balancing. Their body is relatively soft and hairy. They have a pair of large compound eyes, a pair of very short antennae and a sucking mouth. They are strong flier. They are active in day time but some are active at night. Most species with external digestion, foods are liquidized by their enzymes before suck up by their sucking mouths. Some species, like the mosquitoes, pierce the prey skin with their sharp mouthparts and suck up the blood.
 
 
Robber Flies - The Robber Flies are air hunter. They also known as an Assassin Fly or Bee Killer. They have strong legs which can catch prey on flight. They are medium to large size flies with large eyes and necked head. They are active predators on flying insects, unselective in prey species. They even prey on web weaving spiders. Their mouthparts are the triangular proboscis which insert into prey and suck the juice. Most Robust flies are with noticeable "beard" of setae around the face. It is believed that they serve as protection to their face from damage by their prey.
 
 
Bee Flies - Bee Flies are hairy, most of them mimic wasps or bees. However, they have stout and woolly body and do not have narrowed waist. Their wings are easily recognized with distinctive vein pattern, usually dark in colour, some with patterns or spots. When at rest, their wings are flat in outspread position. Their head is occupied by their large eyes, more or less in hemispherical shape. Their legs are slender and without bristles. Their claws are small. Bee Flies favour warm, and sunny localities. Most have a strong, hovering flight and are usually found hovering on blossom or patches of bare soil. 
 
Tachinid Flies - Tachinidae is one of the largest families of Diptera. Tachinid flies are relatively soft bodied, from small to large size insects. They may be drab, brightly coloured, or mimics wasp. Tachinid flies are extremely diverse in appearance and many do not have the typical grey-black, bristly faces. All Tachinid Flies share the parasitoid habit, their larvae are parasites in other insects. They mainly parasites on larvae of moths or butterflies, larvae or adults of beetles, adults of bugs, or adults of various orthopteroid orders, such as grasshoppers and stick insects. 
 

Order Lepidoptera
 
Moths - Moths are much more diverse than butterflies in Brisbane and some of them we found are not yet identified. Their body size are range from 3mm to 60mm. Moths are usually dull in colour and active at night. However there are some exceptions, some  moths are day flying and as colourful as butterflies. The larva is caterpillar, with a head and soft thorax and usually 10- segmented abdomen. They are complete metamorphosis. The adults are usually feed on nectar and pollen, while most caterpillars feed on plants leave, but some are feed on wood or roots.
 
 
Cup Moths - They are named 'Cup Moths' because the shape of their pupal cocoon look like a cup. Their cocoons usually have the wooden round shape, attached to a twig of the food plants. The cocoon look like the fruit of the gum tree on the leaves which they feed. Most caterpillars have their stinging hairs. when disturbed. They usually have the bright warning colours. The caterpillars in this family walk like a slug. They do not have prolegs and all their true legs are reduced.
 
 
 
Looper MothsTheir caterpillars move with curving their bodies into loops. This is why they commonly called Loopers. They are also known as Inch Worms because they apparently measuring off one inch at a time as they move. Some of them are called Twig Caterpillars because their resting posture look like a twig. The adult moths rest with wings open on flat surface. They fly weakly at night. Some are green in colour hence the common name Emeralds.
 
 
Moths Superfamily Noctuoidea - Half of the moths and caterpillars that we found are in this super family Noctuoidea. They include the Prominent Moths, Tussock Moths, Tiger Moths and Noctuid Moths. Most Caterpillars of  Prominent Moth will raise their head and/or tail when disturbed. Some of them are hairy but some are smooth with few spines. Their Caterpillars of Tussock Moth also hairy, often with four distinct tussocks of hair on their back make them look like a toothbrush. Most Caterpillars of Tiger Moth are covered in dense dark hairs. The Noctuid Moth caterpillars are usually smooth or with little hairs. 
 
 
Skipper and Darter Butterflies - The butterflies in this family are from small to medium size. Their bodies are large and with relatively small wings. They are usually yellow or white in a dark brown background colour. They fly in a very rapid and jerky style, this is why they call skippers. They are not as colourful as the other four butterfly families. Most of them rest with the hindwings open, although a few rest with wings completely closed. Their antenna is usually hooked at the tip. Caterpillars are usually with smooth body skin, more or less cylindrical shaped. They usually live and feed in concealed environment.
 
 
Swallowtail Butterflies - Most of the butterflies in this family are large in size and with brilliant colours. They are called Swallowtails because some of species have tailed hindwings. However, not all family members have tails. Most Swallowtails found in Brisbane have no tails. Caterpillars in this family have special method to defense against predators. They have a special fork-shaped organ osmeterium on their heads, when disturbed, will shoot out and produce the pungent smell that could make most predators avoid them.
 
 
White and Yellow Butterflies - The butterflies are in medium size. They usually have white or yellow wings with black edges, and some have red and yellow patterns beneath their wings. They don't have tails on their hindwings. Their flight is rapid and they usually fly erratically amongst the plants. Their caterpillars are usually green or reddish brown in colour.  They are usually well camouflaged. Their pupae are attached to a stem, or flat surface.
 
 
 
Nymph and Danaid Butterflies - All Nymph and Danaid butterflies are strong and rapid fliers. Most of them are seen flying actively in a sunny day, although some species active during the evening. They rest with wings folded over the back, however, we also find that most of them like to expand their wings facing the sun to warm up their body. Caterpillars in this family vary enormously in colour, usually in cylindrical shape. The pupa are simply hanging on plants by the cremaster.
 
 
 
Blue and Copper Butterflies - The butterflies are from very small to medium size. Most of them have metallic colours, either blue or orange-brown in colour. They fly rapidly and erratically close to the ground. Most species males have their fore legs reduced, normal in female. The caterpillars of this family are small to medium size. Their head is usually held under the body, which is flattened and broad. Most species have dense short hairs. Some species their caterpillars secrete a substance which attracts ants, usually by a single or at most a few species of ants.
 

Order Hymenoptera 
 
Sawflies - Sawflies are closely related to wasps. Females have their special egg-laying tool, like a saw, to cut through leaf tissue for their eggs. Sawflies do not sting. However, the larvae may secrete irritating liquid onto the skin or eyes if disturbed. Sawfly larvae are sometimes seen on trees and shrubs, more commonly seen than their adults. Sawfly larvae are vegetarians and feed on leaf. Sawfly parents do not provide parental care to their young, except they lay them on the suitable food plants and some species guard their eggs until they hatch. 
 
 
Parasite Wasps - Their larvae are either parasitic or predators. Most caterpillar are targeted host. Some species attacked other insects and spiders. The female wasp usually locates the food plants of the host then searches with her antennae for a suitable host. The female usually has the long ovipositor which is used to insert eggs into the host body. Some species lay eggs externally and attack the host from outside. The host will usually survive when the larvae is still living. Until the larvae fully grown, the larvae either pupates inside the dead host or form a cocoon outside. 
 
 
Predatory Wasps - Wasps have two pair of membranous wings with the forewings lager than the hind wings.  The female insects have strings to inject venom to their enemy where the string is their modified ovipositor. Most of them have a waist that separates the thorax and abdomen. Some of the them are social insects. They live in a highly organized group. Wasp larvae are carnivorous. They feed on other insects and spiders. The adult female provide food for them by capturing prey or by laying the egg on or near the food source. Female wasps spend most of their time in finding food and making nest for their young.
 
Bees - Most bees live as individual, although the famous Honey Bees are social insects. The solitary bees live in burrow under ground or in tree stems. In their nests, there are chambers for their larvae, beside there are the storage for the nectar and pollen. Some species bees live together and using the same entry, although each have their own nest and look after their own young. Bees'  mouthparts are modified to a hairy tongue, which is used for sucking up nectar from flowers. When rest bees fold their tongue in mouth in Z-shape.
 
Ants - All ants are in family Formicidae and all of them have a waist. Their waist is composed of one or two knobs which are the first one or two segments of their abdomen. Their antennae have a distinct elbow. Ants live in colonies made up of several castes. These included the winged male, winged female and wingless workers. Ant colonies usually contain: an egg-laying queen and many workers together with their brood i.e., eggs, larvae and pupae. Worker ants carry out different jobs including nest construction, foraging, looking after the brood and queen, and nest defense.
 

Class Arachnida, Order Araneida
 
Hunting Spiders - Spider once spelt 'spinder' which simply means 'spinner'. All spiders has their silk glands at their bottom of their abdomen, the back side of their body. Some spiders build webs and some do not. But all spiders make silk egg sac to protect their young. We grouped all the spiders that do not build web in this section.
 
 
 
 
Web Building Spiders -  Spider once spelt 'spinder' which simply means 'spinner'. All spiders has their silk glands at their bottom of their abdomen, the back side of their body. Some spiders build webs and some do not. But all spiders make silk egg sac to protect their young. We grouped all the spiders that build web in this section, including those build orb web, tangle web and web casters.
 
 
 

 
Others
And more ..............
 

 
 Here are some ideas so far we learn from  insects and spiders.
 
 

Photos by Peter Chew taken in Brisbane otherwise stated.
Text by Tony, Sandy and Peter Chew. 
 
 
Tony, Sandy and Peter Chew, 2001           Peter and Tony Chew, 2006

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Last updated: February 24, 2007.
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