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Friday, 14 March 2014

Morning Walk At Venus Drive (15 Mar 2014)

Another week passed by without seeing any rain in Singapore. The weather is really dry and the situation is further worsen by the haze caused by the slash-and-burn farming of our neighbor, Indonesia. The air was thick with the smell of burning and the haze has brought a thick layer of dust on many of the vegetation in the area. The seriousness of the situation can be seen from the layer of dust that settled even on the new leaves. Noticed how dusty the leaf in the background.

One thing I cannot understand is that the haze situation in Singapore is already so unbearable, how can the Indonesians living in and around the region where the burning occur could bear with it. I would presumed that the PSI (a measure of air quality) in Indonesia would be constantly be at hazardous level. Yet nothing done. :(

The dry weather has already claimed many plants that cannot handle the dryness, and even young trees are starting to die. Dead leaves were all over the trail and most of the fallen logs were dry like bones. No fresh fungus mushrooms were in sight for weeks already, even the bracket fungus that were on the fallen logs before the dry spell looked dry and cracked-up, presumably dead. With the dead leaves on the ground, you could hardly see the outline of the trail.

The trip started off well with the first-time-encountered Ant-like Beetle (Anthelephila cyanea) after almost about 10 minutes of searching. This has became the norm since the start of the dry weather as it would take a lot more time to spot beetles. This was found on the top of a giant yam leaf. Noticed the dust that are on the leaf?

The walk from finding the above beetle to the usual clearing yielded no beetles at all. This is really a bad sign of things to come as usually I would easily find many beetles along the way to the clearing.

The beetle that greeted me at the clearing was this Long Horned Beetle (Sclethrus amoenus) that looked very much like a Tiger Beetle. I am glad to be able to find this beetle despite the dry and warm weather.

The situation at the clearing was not as optimistic either, it was only after a thorough search around the place that I managed to spot a few of this highly active Tumbling Flower Beetle (Glipa malaccana).

On a plant near to the Tumbling Flower Beetle was a Leaf Beetle (Graphops curtipennis). Noticed that there are also dust particles on it.

The clearing only yielded 3 types of beetles which is a far cry from  what one would find before the dry weather started. Disappointed I moved on and after about 10 minutes of walking I was thrill to find this beetle larvae, even though it looked a little bit messy. The reason why I am thrill to find this commonly encountered beetle larvae is that since the dry weather, I hardly find them. This could only means one thing - the beetles are not reproducing and they may be dying out due to the dry weather. :(

Moving on, I was pleasantly surprised to find this Tumbling Flower Beetle (Mordella fasciata) resting motionlessly on a leaf.

The weather has really taken a toll on the beetle population at Venus Drive as I only found one of this Leaf Beetle (Argopus brevis) at the location where it used to be a large colony of it. Even for this particular  beetle, it was hiding under a almost withered leaf.

No other beetles were found until I reached the location of the "Snow Tree". There used to be two tree stump side by side to each other but only one was standing today, with one lying on the ground nearby.

On first look the "Snow Tree" is also drying up with many of the fungus mushrooms that used to grow on it gone or died. Only at the base of the tree stump that is under some form of shade that I found a several Fungus Weevils.

The first Fungus Weevil that caught my eyes was this first-time-encountered Fungus Weevil. The find brought back some excitement into the trip.

Near to the above Fungus Weevil was another Fungus Weevil. It was a Fungus Weevil that I have been searching for months since I chanced upon it last year (but was not able to get a very good photograph of it).

I am glad that there is still a patch of black fungus in the shade that several Fungus Beetles were feeding on it. This lovely patterned 3 mm Fungus Beetle was among the few Fungus Beetles found on the black fungus.

Next to the Fungus Weevil was a tiny 1 mm Fungus Beetle.

I am so glad to be able to find these two Fungus Beetle. Since the dry weather started, this type of Fungus Beetles are hard to come by. The insect next to the Fungus Beetles is a Earwig insect. There are quite a number of colorful Earwig that you can find in Venus Drive.

On the same patch of black fungus was a <1 mm first-time-encountered Fungus Beetle. While writing this blog, I noticed that in the background of this tiny Fungus Beetle was an even smaller beetle. Amazing that beetles can be so tiny.

Surprisingly I found a few Rove Beetles resting on the black fungus. Guessed that its habitat is shrinking rapidly and has limited their movements to this small patch of black fungus. They were relatively less active here.

On the "Snow Tree" was this Fungus Weevil, resting motionlessly on the bark despite the camera flashes.

Just before I am done with the "Snow Tree", another tiny 1 mm beetle appeared.

It was about time for me to leave the place as it has taken me much longer time than expected to find beetles. On the way to the exit, I found this Darkling Beetle (Strongylium erythrocephalum) resting on the shaded side of a tree. It was good to find this beetle in this weather and especially so after long time since I last encountered this beetle.

The last beetle of the trip was a Checkered Beetle that was seen running along a dried up tree log. It was quite a challenge photographing this even with the 300 mm zoom lens due to its constant movements. I only managed to snap a quick shot of it when it rested in between its flying and running.

Although the result of the trip was better than expected, I am really concerned for the beetles as I do not know how long more would they be able to withstand this dry and hazy weather. At the same time, I am also concerned that the air quality in Singapore would deteriorate further with the continual burning in Indonesia. Crossing my fingers that the air quality will be good enough for me to photograph more beetles next week.