Australia

The Spider Ant Hunts

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Leptomyrmex rufipes, the red-footed spider ant. Queensland, Australia.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS D60
ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, flash diffused through tracing paper

Must we call them meat ants?

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The blue-green iridescence on these Iridomyrmex purpureus workers shines from microscopic sculpturing on the ants' cuticle.

I’ve never taken to the Australian vernacular for one of their most conspicuous insects.  The latin Iridomyrmex purpureus translates as “purple rainbow ant”, referring both to the base color of the body and to the attractive metallic refractions on the cuticle.  But Aussies instead call this colorful species the “meat ant.” Crass by comparison.

On the other hand, it’d probably not do my reputation of masculine bravado much good were I to stroll into a dusty pub in the outback and announce my affection for “purple rainbow ants.”  Crikey! Meat ants it is, then.

A few more pics: (more…)

Friday Beetle Blogging: Rhipicera femorata

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Rhipicera femorata
Victoria, Australia 

Here’s an insect with exceptional reception: Rhipicera, an Australian Dascilloid beetle.  Little is known about the biology of this species, but its North American cousins in the genus Sandalus are Cicada parasites- and there are certainly plenty of Cicadas down under.

photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon D60
f/13, 1/200 sec, ISO 100
MT24-EX twin flash diffused through tracing paper