On Sunday 20th of October, 10am, a group of local Junior Bug Detectives undertook an hour long investigation of the area behind Bulleen Art & Garden, by the river, and can confirm that bugs were indeed “detected”. Kat lead a team of young, but more than qualified team, who uncovered more than 20 different species of mini beasts at the investigation site.
The search started off in a shady spot, where detectives left “no stone, or piece of wood, unturned”, and replaced them as they went so these habitats were disturbed as little as possible. Here, we found the usual suspects of the understory – the decomposers. There were of course the molluscs – shell backs, slugs, leopard slugs, pale white slugs, and many shades of brown. Slaters, also know in the underground as “butcher boys”, though none were found with any weapons on them. Millipedes, centipedes and shiny metallic coloured flatworms. Ants, earthworms, witchidy grubs, earwigs (cleverly disguised as they had removed any of their ears or wigs), spring tails, very small black beetles and even a stink bug.
When the team felt that they had exhausted all leads in the shade area, the investigation was continued in the open area beside two small eucalypts, in the sunshine, and up in the tree canopies. Here they came across a whole different set of critters. The butterflies were too fast for them, and so were the flies, but the caterpillars with their fluffy getups tried sailing away on fluffy silky strings but they hadn’t thought their plan through and ended up landing on the backs of the investigation team and were apprehended shortly after.
Back up was called early on when the detainees quickly outnumbered the junior detectives – someone had to hold the glass jars so the other detectives could get a better look (thanks mums and dads!). A weevil was ambushed when he appeared unexpectedly on a branch, psillids on the gum leaves had no chance as they were still overwintering and were yet to hatch.
Then the team were rewarded when they came across a whole family of saw flies, moonlighting as a sea anemone, armed and dangerous. They were better known to us as the “Spit Fires”, and they were looking for a fight. We had them surrounded, and took many photos, but the team did not have the means of detaining such a lively crew.
With many of the crew getting hungry and tired, the team called it quits after an hour. All in all, the operation was deemed a success!
Not a bad effort. A biodiversity audit of the insects in our local park, carried out by primary school aged children, with great enthusiasm, not bad for one hours work (or play) on a fine Sunday morning. Missed it? Not to worry, all detainees were released back into the bush where they were found, uncharged and unharmed, so you can always take a walk down to the park to find them any time you like – just leave everything as you found it and be respectful of the bushland and it inhabitants.