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 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Order Mantodea
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
- 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.
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
Scale Insects and Mealy Bugs - There are many families in the suborder
Sternorrhyncha (Soft Bugs). Aphids are small size with soft body, usually
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
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 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.
- 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.
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
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 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
- Order Coleoptera
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Moths - Their
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.
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.
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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- And more ..............
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
Welcome to leave a
message in our Blog.
Please feel free to use the information on these pages.
We can only guarantee those information are NOT 100% correct. Email
me if you need the original photos with higher resolution. Charges will be
apply if the photos are for commercial use.