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- VENUS LOOP - 20/July/2021
Since I had some time during the public holiday for Hari Raya, I decided to pay a quick visit to Venus loop. Upon entering the trail, I was immediately drawn to a large Stink Bug (Dalpada sp) resting on a vine leaf. After a round of photographing the stink bug, I proceeded with my walk, and came across a rotten tree stump, with many nests of termites within it. On this same tree was a cool-looking "Hammerhead fly" (Themara sp). It allowed me to get pretty close for some decent shots. After this fly, there were no more insects observed until I arrived at my favourite area - "the clearing". The first tree on the right when approaching the clearing has been dead for some time, and fungus has been growing in abundance on it. Among the usual Omadius Clerid beetles on that tree, I noticed several smaller Cleridae, belonging to the genus Stigmatium. In addition, there was a large group of Carabids of the subtribe Pericalina on the same tree. These look similar to genus Dolichoctis but have notable differences of a wider pronotum, and head that does not stick out as much. Just as I was about to reluctantly leave the "magic" tree and continue on my walk, I caught sight of several tiny black rods from the corner of my eye. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be Histerids of genus Trypeticus. They are members of the tunnel-crawling community and were found very low down on the dead, standing tree. Right after this delay, I set off yet again, only to be halted in my tracks by the sighting of this Longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae). This pretty beetle is Ostedes perakensis. Dorsal View (Sort of) Anterior On a small plant past the clearing, I managed to spot one of these shiny beetles resting on the stem. It belongs to a terrestrial genus of Long-toed Water beetles (Dryopididae), Sostea sp. They are rather common in this area, but are often overlooked, due to their small size (about 3mm). Right after turning a corner, I noticed a small log by the side of the path, and was pleased to find a Hister beetle in plain view on it. This one belongs to the tribe Platysomatini. After this encounter, I decided to check the time and quickly realised I had already spent an hour in the forest. Hence, I decided to turn back and check out the "clearing" once more before I left. While retracing my steps, I found this tiny weevil, Demimaea bakeri, moving about on a leaf. These bear a strong resemblance to miniature elephants, in my opinion! Finding myself in "the clearing" for the second time that day, I made a beeline for the magic tree and was not disappointed. Several other beetles had shown up, among which, this Coptodera sp (Carabidae), which had probably come out to hunt for food. Furthermore, several of these "butt-plug" beetles (Curculionidae: Platypodinae) had started coming out of their holes for the night. They use their flat backsides to block the entrance of holes in the wood when they are inside them. Straying from the tree once again, I found a common Anthribid (Habrissus cf omadioides) on a rotting log and decided to get a shot of it, due to the brownish slime molds in the background making for an interestingly composed photo. Another Platypodinae was also found nearby, resting on a plant and clutching onto its leaves tightly. When I was done photographing the above beetle, I decided to scour the plant thoroughly for more beetles. My search proved successful, as to my joy, I located a colourful Tenebrionid, sleeping on a small branch between leaves. This is one of the species of Pseudonautes, a genus from my favourite beetle family (Tenebrionidae). Anterior Lateral To round off the trip, I found an Earwig and yet another Platypodinae running about on a dying tree near the exit. Since my last post, I have been busy with other commitments as well as on improving the lighting of my shots (which has significantly improved, thanks to David Ball), I will make sure to keep up the blogs and, the next one will be on a follow-up trip to Windsor which took place 2 weeks later. This marks the end of this blog post, see you on the next adventure :)
- BLOG #7 - Night Walk along Cluny Road, April 2021
First off, I would like to apologise for the lack of writing in my previous post, as well as my inactivity on my blog for 2 weeks or so. I have forgotten to add these two photographs of my previous trip to Mandai 7, and so I would also like to state that the place is indeed a good place for finding insects, and one can expect to see a few herpers and macro photographers on a good day. This Strongylium Darkling Beetle and the pair of tree snakes was seen on the same day, the snakes having been spotted by a small group of herpers. Now on to the main post. I started at the main entrance of the Botanical Gardens, meaning to look for some interesting beetles inside the gardens. However, after a frustrating 20 minutes of searching to no avail, I decided to change my plan, and walk along the side of Cluny road, fringing the Botanical Gardens, which led me towards the Malay state land. When I arrived at the secondary forest near the bus stop, I was greeted with the sight of a pretty Katydid, slowly moving amongst the tall vegetation. At the covered walkway, some small insects were drawn to the dim lights on the roof, however, my eyes focused on a small shiny Chrysomelid (Leaf beetle), resting high up, far out of reach of my camera. I took this as a good sign to continue, and proceeded on with the walk. Just as I was wondering why I had not yet observed any spiders (except for the really really minute ones), my eyes fell on this relatively common, yet delightful Spotted Orb Weaver (Neoscona sp.) Where you find one, you find many. Right next to it was a few other spiders of the same kind, relaxing in their intricate webs and seemingly undisturbed by the flashes coming from my camera equipment. After a while of intense peering at the foliage, I decided to head back, disappointed at the lack of interesting critters. However, I was stopped when I had barely taken ten steps, by the sight of the same species of beetle I had seen earlier on the shelter! - Chrysomelidae, Eumolpinae Here with a ? Whitefly? Just before I left the edge of the secondary forest along the walkway, I found a common June beetle, Apogonia sp, resting on the leaf, probably still sleepy and not yet ready to start its feasting. Right after this, I left the walkway which ran alongside the Malayan State land, and crossed the road to reach the pavement adjacent to the Botanical gardens. As I continued walking back towards the pick-up point, my eyes fell on clumps of white foam on a small, white-flowered plant, looking like decorations on the small shrub. This foam is actually a protective casing for the nymphs of spittlebugs, and as there were many clumps around, I assumed correctly that I would find some adults as well. Sure enough, after scanning the leaves for a mere five seconds, I found many adult Spittlebugs, practicing social distancing, with one on each leaf! It turned out to be Ptyelinellus praefractus, a relatively common species of spittlebug that can be found in urban parks and gardens. Just pass the shrub with many Ptyelinellus praefractus hoppers, a speck of white flew across my path and landed on the underside of an Elephant Ear leaf. It turned out to be a beautiful ladybeetle, of the tribe Ortaliini. Unfortunately it was moving about frantically most of the time, thus I could not get a great shot. After this chance encounter, I continued down the path. There were many shrubs lining the path, and most had many of the same Ptyelinellus praefractus spittlebugs on them. However, my eyes fell on a tiny, 2mm speck on one leaf. It was, under closer inspection, another hopper! Under my flash, its true colours came out, however the shots are again regrettably not very sharp, as the leaves blocked some of the lighting from reaching this beauty. Nevertheless, it was probably the most colourful find of the night. It is a flathead leafhopper, of the Genus Uzelina. After this cool critter, there were no more finds until I arrived at the pick-up point. There, I found a 3mm darkling beetle, Amarygmus sp, high up on a vine, too far out of my camera's reach unfortunately. It is still included here as a record of what I had seen. And with that, there marked the end of my partially fruitful trip to Cluny roadside. Although I did see some interesting creatures, in the future I probably would pick a different spot to go, as the number of insects seen divided by the time I spent would result in a much lower 'score' than, for example, Windsor Nature Park.
- Blog #6: Two Short Walks along Mandai Road Track 7
Near the end of March, I had been contemplating if I should go explore the vegetation along the sides of Old Upper Thomson Road, but in the end decided to go for Mandai Road Track 7 instead, as in my mind, there should be less traffic there, due to it not being a road that connects different districts of Singapore. This blog will talk about each trip separately, so as to provide more information about the behaviour and habitat of the creatures. For the first trip, we parked in a carpark next to a golf course adjacent to the road. On the left side of the road, there was a small track following the road as it winds towards the Upper Seletar Reservoir. It was not a designated trail, as it did not stray into the forest, and was probably caused by human traffic along the side of the road. The first insect was found a stone's throw away from the carpark. What I assumed was a cockroach turned out to be a lovely Ground Beetle, Orthogonius sp, resting on a low branch. After getting some good shots of it, I was about to move off when I caught sight of a brown 'blob' on a small leaf. It turned out to be a relatively large Click Beetle, at about 20mm in size. Surprisingly, it just lay unmoving on the leaf as I clicked away at it. Unfortunately, my diffuser was designed in a hurry, and started to produce strange lighting in my shots. Nevertheless, I continued on, and came across some more interesting finds shown below. Feel free to enjoy the poorly taken photographs, the next blog will be of a much more recent, successful trip with a detailed recount of the trip. The lack of writing in this post is a one-off (Due to me not being able to remember altogether what happened during the trip). Do go and view the other articles in my blog, and feel free to give me feedback on how I can improve anything! Strongylium sp. Genus Sepedophilus Tenebrionidae, Cnodalonini Phymatostetha dislocata Asiophlugis sp. Litter moth Dysphania sp. Earwig Sepedophilus sp. Sepedophilus sp. Neolethaeus sp. Dinomyrmex gigas Ceropria cf induta Hemipyxis semiviridis Phymatostetha dislocata
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