Posts categorized as Bugs, insects and spiders

The mystery of the giant hoho weevils of Rangatira Island

  • Hadramphus weevil on hoho trunk at night, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Coxella speargrasses in the Department of Conservation nursery at Te One, Chatham Island. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Map of Rangatira Island showing locations where blog images were taken. S = weevils feeding on speargrass, H1 = hoho tree near the hut, H2 = weevil site on summit track, H3 = weevil site in Kokopu Creek catchment.
  • Coxella weevil (Hadramphus spinipennis) feeding on coxella (Aciphylla dieffenbachii) at night, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa curator Colin Miskelly has recently returned from volunteering for the Department of Conservation on the Chatham Islands. His inordinate fondness for weevils led to some new discoveries about one of Rangatira Island’s more cryptic yet spectacular inhabitants. The coxella weevil Hadramphus spinipennis was one of the 50 or so Chatham Island insects discovered… Read more »

Giant spiders and other critters of Rangatira Island, Chatham Islands

  • Slightly smaller and more brightly coloured than the female, a male Rangatira spider hunts on a mahoe trunk at night, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A male Geodorcus capito stag beetle. Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Chatham Island skink Oligosoma nigriplantare. Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Subantarctic fur seal Arctocephalus tropicalis. Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Rangatira Island is best known as a refuge for rare birds, but it is also home to a spectacular variety of flightless insects, giant spiders, lizards, and seals. Te Papa natural environment curator Colin Miskelly recently spent a month on the island as a volunteer for the Department of Conservation. The team was mainly focussed… Read more »

Who’s living in Bush City? A citizen science investigation

Diverse variety of bush and a bridge pathway through it

Over 7–9 April, Te Papa is helping to host New Zealand’s first symposium dedicated to citizen science – the involvement of the community in scientific research.  There are presentations on Monday 9 April, and various practical workshops during the preceding weekend. One of the workshops is a bioblitz of Te Papa’s Bush City – Botany Curator… Read more »

A recent blog about white-tailed spiders by spider expert Phil Sirvid prompted a flood of questions from our readers. Phil answers some of these and attempts to alleviate your fears. Dirty mouths Question: I was under the impression that although their bite wasn’t particularly venomous, they are what is called a ‘dirty mouthed’ spider….much like the Australian Blue Tongued Lizzard,… Read more »

Further flax weevil finds from farthest Fiordland

  • Flax weevil on Round Island, Preservation Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Southern Winds in Cascade Basin at the head of Long Sound. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Flax weevil larvae, Preservation Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sites where flax weevil feeding sign was noted in Chalky and Preservation Inlets in November 2017. Red arrows show islands where live flax weevils were found. Map based on NatureWatch sightings contributed by the Te Papa and DOC team.

Until 2016, flax weevils (large flightless protected beetles) were known from a single island in Fiordland. Recent surveys by Te Papa and Department of Conservation staff have now found evidence of them on a further 56 Fiordland islands. Here, Te Papa scientist Dr Colin Miskelly reports on the latest findings from remote southern Fiordland. What… Read more »

New Zealand’s weirdest mosquitoes: The impatient males

The fore tarsal claw of the adult male mosquito to grab onto the female pupa. Credit: Julia Kasper

Curator Terrestrial Invertebrates Julia Kasper looks at the reproductive lives of our local mosquitoes. The salt pool mosquito (Opifex fuscus) can just be found in New Zealand and it is our only rock pool mosquito. From an evolutionary perspective they show quite ancient mosquito characteristics. They look stout, have a short proboscis (snout), and short… Read more »

Help us identify some 17th century butterflies, moths, and bugs: Part II

Hollar blog 2 plate 9

This is the second part to Dr Mark Stocker’s series of blogs asking you to help identify a number of butterflies, moths, and other insects in a series of 17th century prints by Anglo-Czech etcher Wenceslaus Hollar. Mark has been working with Te Papa bug experts Dr Phil Sirvid and Dr Julia Kasper to identify the insects but they… Read more »

Metamorphosis and pineapples: The illustrations of Maria Sibylla Merian

Detail from The Surinam Album

Who was Maria Sibylla Merian? Librarian Christine Kiddey uncovers the fascinating story of the woman behind the remarkable The Surinam Album, full of lavish illustrations of flora and fauna from the former Dutch colony of Suriname in South America. Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) was born in Frankfurt into a family of artists and book publishers, and… Read more »