If you’ve seen leaves that look like this, you may have spotted the telltale signs of Paropsis beetles. Also called Tortoise beetles, these little leaf-munchers have a very neat trick of evading predators by pulling their antennae and legs into their shell when threated.
There are more than 70 different species in this family; all small, roughly hemispherical and often brightly coloured. They are often mistaken for ladybirds, but are actually of a different family. The adults chew Eucalyptus leaves from the outer edges, making distinctive chewed patterns that look like the bite marks of something much larger.
Our most recent slow walk in Baranduda focused on insects, exploring the diversity of leaf beetles, spittlebugs, gum hoppers, ants and spiders living in the native vegetation. Karen and Sue brought along some special close-focusing binoculars which were shared around the group, giving fascinating close-up views of even the smallest insects.
We identified two different Paropsis species on the eucalypts; the larvae of the Dotted Paropsine beetle, and adult Eucalyptus Variegated beetles. These were added to our ‘#Parklands slow nature walk’ records on iNaturalist – a list which is already quite impressive as we head into our mid spring walks.
Other sightings included numerous birds, many of which were identified by song by local birdwatcher Bernie Datson. Bernie was able to list more than 30 bird species, showing once again how rich the habitat is in the bush reserves of Baranduda.
A mid-spring walk will be held at Baranduda on October 21st. All are welcome (follow the link to book a place).
Parkland’s seasonal Slow Nature Walks are supported by the Victorian government.