Critters in the garden 31st March 2022

Thanks to Pam I can share photographs of a couple of garden critters that were disturbed when working in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG).  One of the jobs that the volunteer team tackled this week, was to remove rotting wooden edges to a garden bed.  Within these a Christmas Beetle and a Wolf spider had made their home. When disturbed, the spider ran up a wall to stay and watch proceedings, presumably hoping all would settle down soon and that s/he could return to the ‘home’ spot where a ready feast of smaller insects roamed.

The Wolf Spider from the family, Lycosidae and species, Tasmanicosa godeffroyi has a bite that is poisonous but not lethal to humans. Although non-aggressive, they bite freely if provoked and should be considered dangerous to humans. The bite may be very painful. First aid and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible, particularly for children or the elderly. But it is encouraging to know that wolf spiders don’t jump on humans to attack them. In fact, wolf spiders  are quite scared of humans and will only bite them if they’re intimidated or if you come too close to them. Needless to say the Food Garden volunteers were relaxed and were comfortable as the Wolf Spider ran off and stayed still, once watching from the camouflaging patterns on a wall. 

Characteristically the spider is a long-legged and hairy with males growing to 2.0 cm and females to 3.5 cm.  It relies on good eyesight to catch prey, and has three rows of eyes, two at the back, two in the centre and four in the front. Wolf spiders are robust, agile, fast-moving ground hunters that chase down or ambush prey. They live anywhere they can find insects to eat and are one measure of a healthy garden.

Tasmania’s Christmas Beetle, the Lamprima aurata, is a bright green and gold stag beetle, although the colours vary from place to place; on the coast, the beetles can be dark purple or bronze and no-one knows why. It has been suggested the colour differences might be associated with the chemical content of the soil. This beetle is otherwise known as a scarab beetle of the anoplognathus species. 

Fewer examples of these beetles have been seen in recent years and the reason for their absence is unknown.

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