Posts categorized as Bugs, insects and spiders

Are wingless fliers Nature’s best hitchhikers?

Left: A louse-fly carries a hitchhiking louse from a Japanese crow, attached to one of the fly’s abdominal hairs. Right: detail of same louse. Photos by Rokuro Kano, Tokyo, Japan. © Rokuro Kano

by Ricardo L. Palma, Curator of Terrestrial Invertebrates Evolving without wings, humans dreamed about flying for thousands of years… but only just over 100 years ago they invented a heavier-than-air machine which could fly and take them to the skies. However, long long ago, natural evolution had already provided the opportunity to fly to creatures… Read more »

Newtown Kindergarten studies spiders at Te Papa

  • Examining the spiders in the resin blocks, Photographer: Newtown Kindy, © Newtown Kindy
  • Phil and his tarantula! Photographer: Newtown Kindy, © Newtown Kindy
  • Sharing stories, Photographer: Newtown Kindy, © Newtown Kindy
  • Meeting Rebecca and Phil at Te Papa, Photographer: Newtown Kindy, © Newtown Kindy

This blog provides an excellent opportunity not only for us to share with you, but  for you to share with each other. How do you use our museum as a learning resource? What do you find to be best practice? Why are museum and gallery experiences important for your tamariki? Our latest story comes from kaiako (teacher) Charlene from Newtown… Read more »

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

A couple of colleagues pointed out there was something a little odd about the spider I thought was a juvenile redback spider in Scott Ogilvie’s post. This spider, named Fabergé – as in Fabergé egg, for her ovoid shape and pretty pattern-  is nothing of the kind despite my initial impressions. I got so carried… Read more »

My spidey sense is tingling

The spider in question. Happily sunning itself on my curtain. © Te Papa

When you find an ‘odd’ looking spider on your curtain, what is your normal response? Hopefully it’s not to kill it! Maybe it’s to catch it and it and take outside? Or maybe more of a Paul McCartney approach and let it be. Well I was faced with that decision last weekend and took a different… Read more »

Watching nature with NatureWatch

I saw this giant stick insect on the perimeter fence of the Zealandia sanctuary in Wellington. I wanted to know what kind of stick insect it was, so uploaded a photo to NatureWatch: http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/385266

Do you want to learn more about the animals, fungi, and plants around you? Would you like to help scientists better understand the distribution of New Zealand’s biodiversity? If so, then the citizen-science website NatureWatch NZ  is for you. You can find out more about NatureWatch at the Wellington Botanical Society meeting on Monday 17th March,… Read more »

Critters of the Snares Islands

  • A Prodontria longitarsis chafer beetle on Veronica elliptica at night. Image: Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Lyperobius nesidiotes photographed on Anisotome acutifolia on Broughton Island in 1984. A recent survey failed to find its host plant on Broughton Island, the only site where the weevil was known to occur, and so it is possible that this rarest of the Snares Islands’ insects has quietly chewed its way to extinction. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Anisotome acutifolia in flower near the Razorback on North East Island, Snares Islands. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly standing next to a large punui (Stilbocarpa robusta) on the Snares Islands. This plant had leaves up to 73 cm across. Image: Alan Tennyson, Te Papa

A Te Papa team recently visited the Snares Islands Nature Reserve, 105 km south-southwest of Stewart Island, where they completed a range of seabird and plant research projects. Here, Colin Miskelly (Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates) describes some of the smaller inhabitants of the Snares Islands. Watch Science Live: Expedition Snares Island to find out more about… Read more »

Anthony Hume Whitaker, MNZM (1944–2014) – a tribute

  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • McGregor’s skink (Oligosoma macgregori), and Sail Rock viewed from Dragon Mouth Cove, Taranga (Hen Island). Tony Whitaker found McGregor’s skink to be present on Sail Rock during landings there in January 1969 and March 1971. McGregor’s skinks from Sail Rock were translocated to nearby Lady Alice and Whatupuke Islands after Pacific rats were eradicated on both islands. Images: Colin Miskelly
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Tony Whitaker (centre) with Department of Conservation staff Ian Cooksley and Mark Townsend during a ‘pre-rat-eradication’ lizard survey on Kapiti Island, May 1995. Image: Colin Miskelly

Tony Whitaker (or ‘Whit’ to his many friends) was the godfather of modern herpetology in New Zealand. Following more than half a century of fieldwork to the remotest corners of New Zealand, there were few lizard species that he had not seen, nor lizard researchers that he had not cheerfully assisted. Tony’s passion for, and… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 4) – subterranean Ohinau Island

  • A fluttering shearwater chick inside its burrow on Ohinau-iti Island. Image: Robyn Blyth
  • A Mercury Island tusked weta inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fluttering shearwater egg in a burrow on a stack off Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on what the team found living underground on the island. As described in previous blogs in this series, a burrowscope is a high-tech tool… Read more »

Critters of Ohinau Island

  • Close-up of the tusks of a male Mercury Island tusked weta, showing the ridges that are rubbed together to create sound. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A pair of Mercury Island tusked weta on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. The large male (with tusks) is on the left; the long appendage at the rear of the female is her ovipositor, used to lay eggs in the soil. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The entire range of Mercury Island tusked weta. This rare species survived only on 13 ha Middle Island, the small island left of centre in this image. Following eradications of Pacific rats (kiore) on nearby larger islands, they were successfully translocated to Cuvier Island (on the distant horizon), Korapuki Island (immediately below Cuvier Island, and to the lower right of Great Mercury Island), Stanley Island (the large island to the right of Middle Island), the western end of Double Island (which appears as two small islands to the right of Stanley Island), Red Mercury Island (the long, low island on the right), and Ohinau Island (foreground). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • An adult male Mercury Island tusked wets (Motuweta isolata) on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on some of the more impressive invertebrate species that he found on the island. Ohinau is a 43 ha forested island owned by Ngati… Read more »

Past and present fauna of Mt Owen, north-west Nelson

A speargrass weevil (Lyperobius clarkei) on an on the speargrass Aciphylla ferox speargrass.

As well as impressive plants, Mount Owen and the Marino Mountains are also zoologically interesting. The wet weather may have prevented us reaching the summit of Mount Owen but it did bring out the slugs and snails. We spotted a giant leaf-veined slug (Amphikonophora gigantea) beside the track on the lower flanks of the mountain…. Read more »