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No 1 November 2000

Bringing you all the news from the Australian Insect Farm.

This issue:
Images for this issue

*** Welcome *** It Ain't No Taj Mahal!!  
*** Butterfly Breeding *** Land For Wildlife  
*** Adventure Wilderness *** In The Lab  
*** The Bug Files *** Web Site Update


Bugs And Grubs: A reprint of an article by Sue and printed in Wet Tropics Newspaper.

to our first AIF newsletter.

Published quarterly, the newsletter will bring you up to date on all the activities and news from the farm. Features include news items, on-farm projects and presenting the most interesting developments in the workshop we have "In the Lab".

And specially for those keeping insects as pets we have "The Bug Files".

To coincide with the newsletter will be a regular update on our web site, a must to visit with photos and other interesting entomological articles to view.



After lengthy delays due to excessive rain, the new field station is finally operational including 4-wheel drive access.

Up to now, access for research on the property was mostly via the many old logging trails, which we attempted to maintain by hand. The other alternative was to simply head off through the forest. With access being restricted as such and limited to walking use only, an alternative was sought!

After selecting relevant old logging trails, access was opened to approximately another 500 metres further into the property. This left behind the 50 year-old regrowth section of the acreage and entered the more interesting old growth forest sector. Situated at an altitude of approximately 50 metres (our hill top is 100 metres) we have an open working area, which looks out over an area of the property not previously researched by ourselves. Here we have built a small shelter, at this stage still awaiting completion. For now, the shelter is quite reminiscent to the Mt. Lewis Wind Tunnel!

At present we are operating a number of research projects in the new areas available from this working site, with some of these projects being conducted for outside institutions.

These days taking off to do some fieldwork no longer necessarily means spending lengthy periods of time trekking through the scrub just to get to the chosen site, then work and return. Now with the 4wd access available, we can be at the main core of our research site in a matter of minutes, which is definitely a bonus in time and working conditions.

With the site already in operation, we hope to have the shelter completed for this summer. With no power available, it is truly for work and not for comfort.

As we say "It ainít no Taj Mahal" but itís a start!



Butterfly breeding is back in full swing here at the farm. After a break from butterfly breeding for a period of around 12 months the shelves are once again full of larvae containers.

I had almost forgotten was how time-consuming butterfly larvae can be. It only took a few days and all was remembered - those never ending hungry mouths!

To say none the least, the daily routine in the lab has quickly altered to cater for the priority butterflies and their offspring demand.

One major benefit from the break was the regeneration in food plants. Large numbers of butterflies are presently being bred as most food plant beds are well stocked.

An interesting item from a recent batch of around 200 Common Eggfly pupa was a Bilateral Gynandromorph butterfly.

Something we rarely see a gynandromorph refers to an animal that possesses both male and female characteristics. Such specimens are genetically unable to breed.

This phenomenon is found particularly in insects but it does also appear in birds and mammals.

Check the web page "update" for the Gynandromorph photo.



In August, the Australian Insect Farm acreage was registered for Land for Wildlife, a volunteer conservation program.

Originating in Victoria in 1981, Land for Wildlife was instigated in recognition that many landholders were trying to provide habitat for wildlife on their own property and should be supported and encouraged. In 1997 an article written by Leigh Ahern for Land for Wildlife Newsletter (refer web site), suggested the AIF would be most suitable for LFW listing. Unfortunately at that time, the program was not operational in Queensland.

This year the program was expanded to regional areaís including North Queensland.

While the Regional Queensland program is only in itsí infancy it proudly lists over 40 properties.

Go to "update" page for photo.


November saw the first AIF documentary go to air with a viewing audience of 1.2 million.

Filmed earlier this year over a 10 day period the end result was a 45 minute show. A German production with the series title "Adventure Wilderness" not only featured all the farms insects but also highlighted the conservational and environmental aspects to our farms operations.

With the show available for world wide distribution, we might see it here on Australian TV, one day.


Thereís a sense of restlessness in the lab! Synchronizing with the spring weather, we have a whole variety of insect activity in the lab.

Starting with the beetles. Most species have pupated now and we await their emergence soon. There has been the very first of the season to emerge, those being the Rhinoceros Beetles, some Rainbow Stag Beetles and a few Flower Scarabs.

October we had a mass emergence of Praying Mantids, with the majority now large enough to eat grasshoppers and other small prey.

The Giant Burrowing Cockroaches have also had their young. Most females in the breeding program produced a clutch of around 25 babies. Some of those females are weighing in at an amazing 32 gms.

And we have babies in the Centipede department. Itís a wonderful display of maternal care by the females, clutching their young and being what is best described as "over protective".

Brooding females appear rather inactive at this stage but the slightest vibration and the mother wraps up the young and heads for safety into her burrow. Like all good mothers, she devotes weeks of maternal care to her young.

The first young have just left their mothers care and have had their first feed of mealworms. All are eating well.

On to the Lepidoptera shelves. Numbers of larvae of all sizes are being fed daily. Mostly butterfly larvae but we also have the last of the giant grubs of the Hercules Moth still feeding.

With these last few just about to make their cocoons, others have already emerged and the adults have mated with females now producing eggs.

Even the snails are getting into the act, with their eggs now hatched.

Visit the "update" page for lab photos.



Key words: larva (grub); larvae (grubs); pupa (Latin word meaning doll)

pupae (a number of pupa); pupal cell (a chamber holding a pupa)

pupate (to become a pupa)


For our first topic we look at Beetles and in particular their pupa stage.

For those who have been feeding your larvae through the winter season adults are just around the corner. If you havenít noticed already, there should be a noticeable increase in their activity. Perhaps they have been seen more often than usual, roving around on the top of their soil mix. If so, your larvae are actually searching for a suitable site to change to a pupa.

There are changes that occur in the insectsí body as it eats and grows. When the larva is fully grown, the urge to eat disappears. In its place is a new urge the urge to become a pupa.

Every beetle larva makes some kind of shelter where it can quietly turn into a pupa and finally emerge as an adult. We call these shelters, pupal chambers or cells. Each larva makes itsí own kind of pupal cell which is fashioned accordingly to itsí habitat.

Inside, the larva finally come to rest. Here it moults its skin for the last time. Its skin splits down its body and the insect manages to work itself out of its old skin. What was once a larva is now a pupa.

As a pupa it appears rather dormant, moving very little. The pupa breathes but it does not eat at all, yet it is going through another change. The shape of the adult insect is moulded inside the pupal skin. When fully developed an adult beetle will emerge, leaving behind the pupal skin.

At this stage the freshly changed beetle is soft. Over a period of often days, the beetle slowly hardens and develops all its correct adult colouration. This is when the beetle is ready to leave its pupal cell and take its first flight.

Pupae are a most remarkable stage of an insectsí life cycle. They range in size and shape, from the often beautifully coloured butterfly pupa to the beetle pupa, which has a rather strange appearance and is often associated with something out of the "Alien" movies.

Checkout the photoís on our web site "update" page.



Donít forget to visit our new "Update" page on our web site. This page includes photos of the more interesting items from the newsletter.

This update includes:

    • Gynandromorph butterfly
    • Land for Wildlife
    • In the Lab Female Hercules Moth and Cocoons, Female Praying Mantid and Oothecaís, Centipede and babies
    • Bugs and Grubs pupae photos
    • Plus more on grubs in the "Bugs and Grubs" article.

We hope you enjoy our first newsletter.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and safe holidays.


Sue Hasenpusch


Copyright © 2000 Australian Insect Farm. All Rights Reserved.

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