Six on Saturday – W11/2021 – Caterpillars, ants and frogs

I have been weeding the garden during the week, and I use a plastic pad to kneel/sit on while I’m weeding. All was going well until I knelt on to a Green-headed ant, Rhytidoponera metallica, which had the opportunity to bite me several times during the time it to me to register the pain and leap up to my feet! I had a red swollen, achy knee for over three days, and it did not seem to be healing. Then the wounds blistered, and a good dose of Betadine that I applied finally sorted it out. Onto less painful things now, starting with number 1 of this weeks Six on Saturday.

1. The small section of garden where the native ground orchids are growing has been inundated with weeds, and while I was carefully clearing out the weeds I noticed a cluster of about 6 tiny white eggs in the middle of a tuft of grass. I presume they are lizard eggs, so I have left them in place and moved the grass to hide them from predators.

Tiny eggs in a tuft of grass

2. The seaside daisy, Erigeron Glaucus, that I had planted in one of the larger borders has run riot, and looks very untidy. I decided to remove it all, and whilst pulling it out I discovered this little mud funnel hidden underneath the daisy. I’m not sure what creature made this, whether it is a trapdoor spider, or lizard. The funnel is a couple centimetres above the ground. I have left it alone, unsure whether it is still occupied or not.

3. Time for some colour. I almost lost this Dahlia plant in spring. Although I had other Dahlias in the garden this particular variety did not like the corner I had picked for it. I dug it up and planted it in a plastic pot, hoping that it would recover and survive. It did! It is looking spectacular! I have no idea what variety of Dahlia it is.

4. Next up, Otocanthus caeruleus, ‘Little Boy Blue’. I bought this as a rescue plant, planted it out in the garden, but the plant just did not thrive. It looked tatty and had hardly any new growth. I removed a rooted stem from the plant, potted it up, and it has grown well and is flowering. The cutting gets more shade Than the original plant, so I think I might dig up the original and plant it in a shadier part of the garden. The flowers are a much deeper blue that that reflected in the photo.

Otocanthus caeruleus, ‘Little Boy Blue’

5. I walked past two of my potted Sun Impatiens a couple of days ago and noticed how scraggly the plants looked!

On closer inspection I found the culprits!

Both caterpillars have 3 pairs of stripy front legs, a huge body with an upright tail, and a very small head. And boy are they hungry! When they rest from eating, they bend their heads back, and the three pairs of stripy legs are held together in pairs. I have been unsuccessful in identifying the caterpillars.

Caterpillar in resting mode

6. Finally, a couple of photos of the very cute frog that Mr S found burrowed into the newly dug over soil of one of his vegetable beds. We think it is the Great Barred Frog, Mixophyes fasciolatus.

UPDATE: This morning (Sunday) I went to inspect my half eaten Sun Impatiens, and found only one caterpillar remaining! The others have gone – presumably eaten by a bird! We have covered the plant with a net as we want to see what the pupa and hopefully the adult look like.

That is my Six for the week. I’m off to enjoy other Sixes via The Propagator. Links are provided in the comments section of his blog. Wishing you all a happy week!

14 comments

  1. Your caterpillars look like our N. American tomato and tobacco hornworms (which turn into hawk moths, as mentioned above.) They are a real pest in our late summer vegetable gardens, as they can decimate tomato plants.

    • Thanks for the information! We can not grow tomatoes here during summer, so I guess the impatiens must be the next best/tasty food supply for them. I will continue researching to see if I can identify the species of hawk moth. We are hoping they are not the caterpillars of the mean fruit sucking moth!

  2. Hawk moth caterpillars. I Googled Australian hawk moth caterpillars and there are rather a lot. We get a few, I love them and endure the damage done.

    • Oh thank you! My reference books, which I realise now are very limited in information (they show all the butterfly/moth photos but none of the other stages of the insect development). I’m looking for a more comprehensive reference now….. I will visit Mr Google shortly!

  3. A lot of things are going on in your garden, its nice that we can follow it via your blog. Take good care for all living creatures 🙂

  4. As always, a wonderful and fascinating selection of wildlife in your garden (except for the ant biting you, that’s not wonderful). The photos of the caterpillars are excellent. I like your live and let live attitude too, but I have been wrestling with this earlier, with rosemary beetles that are decimating my rosemary, I remove them by hand and sometimes put them on the bird table, but they seem to find their way back.

    • This year I watched my Callistemon being eaten by caterpillars, and decided that my little could really only support a few or it would be totally defoliate! So I removed some, and it seems to have worked. The tree won’t take a long time to recover from the devastation! If the bugs are not beneficial then we remove them. It sounds as if the Rosemary beetles might not be beneficial. Could you put an exclusion net over the bush to protect it from the beetles? Gardening can be tedious sometimes!

      • Yes I think one has to draw the line somewhere. You don’t want to end up with no plants! But there is definitely a balance to be struck too. A net is a good idea, as long as I manage to get all the beetles and their little grubs off first of course. At least as a temporary measure, as it can be aesthetically a bit challenging!

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