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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Night Walk At Venus Drive (30 Jan 2015)

It has been pretty dry for the entire week and so I decided to go to Venus Drive. From my experience, the chances of finding beetles in this dry weather would be very much higher in Venus Drive than other places. I wanted to be sure that I would find a number of beetles to photograph because I am also testing out a new DIY flash diffuser for my flash.

When I reached the place, I met a fellow macro photographer who frequently conducts macro photography lessons around the different nature parks in Singapore. As we chatted up with each other, we both agreed that Venus Drive is a good place to find critters during this dry season.

After a short chat up, I proceeded with my walk. The first critter that caught my eyes was I what I initially thought was a Ladybird Beetle but it turned out to be a spider that looked very much like a Chilocorus circumdatus Ladybird Beetle.

Here's a photograph of a  Ladybird Beetle (Chilocorus circumdatus) from a previous trip at Venus Drive. Notice the similarity?

The first beetle for the trip was a Chafer Beetle resting on a leaf. I was glad that the DIY diffuser work pretty well and the hot spot on the beetle was not as intense.

About 20 meters from the first Chafer Beetle was another Chafer Beetle (Apogonia expeditionis) which is commonly encountered in our parks and gardens at night.

More Chafer Beetles as I moved further down the trail. A Chafer Beetle (Adoretus compressus) was resting on a badly eaten leaf.

Moving to a large elephant ear plant, several Ant-like Flower Beetle (Anthelephila cyanea) were moving on the underside of a leaf.

As expected, not a single beetle was found at the usual spots that have beetles but I am glad to be able to find this lone 10 mm Darkling Beetle resting on a small woodpile.

It was not long that I reached the "clearing" which was previously overran by creepers and low bushes to the point that it became difficult to go deeper into the place. I was surprised to find that much of the creepers and low bushes have died out and the fallen tree logs at the place were revealed once again. Sadly, the logs were bone dry and no beetles were found on them. The only beetle I found at the place was a Darkling Beetle (Ceropria superba) resting on a leaf.

Further down from the "clearing" was a single Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurulenta) which was a great contrast to the number of Tiger Beetles I encountered the last time I was there.

Moving on, I found a Ground Beetle (Onypterygia longispinis) on a big leaf. It was rather calm as usually they are pretty skittish especially to lights.

Before long I was at the location of the "snow tree 2", but I was disappointed to see that the tree was sawn down to the base of the tree. Near to the sawn "snow tree 2" was a small log with several of this Rove Beetle. As usual, Rove Beetles are hard to photograph because of their speed of moving around.

Near to the Rove Beetle was a beetle larvae, which I presumed it to be the larvae of the Rove Beetle.

On a tree nearby was a small 4 mm Darkling Beetle at the edge of a small depression on the bark of the tree.

As I move further down the trail, I noticed something odd about a beetle larvae at the base of a moss covered tree. Upon zooming closer, I noticed that it was surrounded by several tiny wasps. Not sure if they were attacking it for food.

Coming to another woodpile, I found a single beetle larvae resting on the side a log.

Near to the woodpile was a dark bronze colored Chafer Beetle. With a cursory glance, it looked like the common Apogonia expeditionis Chafer Beetle but upon closer look, it is different in terms of its color and with its elytra much broader than the Apogonia expeditionis Chafer Beetle.

Moving further into the trail than usual due to the smaller number of beetles encountered, I came across what I would term as a "snow tree" in the making - meaning the tree is not well and is probably dying as it started to attract different types of beetle to it. On the side of the tree was a Fungus Weevil (Eucorynus crassicornis).

I was pleasantly surprised to find this first-time-encountered tiny and colorful 2 mm Darkling Beetle hiding in a crevice on the tree bark. Noticed the interestingly long antennae?

On the other side of the tree trunk was a 10 mm Click Beetle.

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

Near the base of the tree was a first-time-encountered Ambrosia Beetle trying to dig into the tree trunk.

While photographing the Ambrosia Beetle, I noticed a slight movement and found a Ground Beetle (Pericalus tetrastigma).

Running busily along the side of the tree trunk was a Flat Bark Beetle (Catogenus rufus).

Near to the Flat Bark Beetle was a 3 mm Ground Beetle (Minuthodes multisetosa).

Near to the Ground Beetle was a small hole and in it was another first-time-encountered Ambrosia Beetle.

While photographing the Ambrosia Beetle, I noticed some small movement on the trunk and found this first-time-encountered Sap Beetle.

Moving to a tree stump, I found a first-time-encountered beetle. Not sure which family of beetle it belonged to.

A few centimeters to the above beetle was another smaller but similar beetle.

On a fallen tree on the side of the trail was a Darkling Beetle (Ceropria induta).

There were several large white bracket fungus on the fallen tree and on one of the bracket fungus was a Fungus Beetle. Interesting to note that this is the only of such Fungus Beetle that I came across for the trip.

Going still further down the trail, I found a tree that looked to be a "snow tree" as there were tiny sawdust floating down from the top of the tree. The sawdust "snow" was likely to be due to the tunneling of beetles into the tree. On the side of the tree was  a 4 mm Darkling Beetle which immediately fall to the leaf litter at the base of the tree.

On the new "snow tree 3", were several of this beautiful Ground Beetle (Catascopus dalbertisi). This is the cleanest of all the Ground Beetles on the tree as the  rest were all covered by specks of sawdust. Noticed the circular holes near to the beetle? The holes are probably created by Ambrosia Beetles.

Near to the Ground Beetle was a black 5 mm Darkling Beetle.

On the side of the tree was a patch of branch-like black fungus and on one of the "branches" was this 3 mm Darkling Beetle. See how fine were the sawdust next to the Darkling Beetle.

On the other side of the tree was a small 4 mm Fungus Weevil.

About 3 meters up the tree was a Darkling Beetle (Promethis valga). Pardon  the quality of the photograph as it was included as a record of the encounter with it.

The last beetle for the trip was a Chafer Beetle (Aprosterna pallide) having a feast on some flowers of a low tree.

The dry weather has made finding of beetles more difficult, but thankfully I am still able to find a good number of beetles, especially those first-time-encountered beetles. If the weather persists to be so dry it will likely to lead to a die-out of beetles, especially Fungus Beetles due to a lack of fungus mushrooms which do not grow well in dry conditions.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (23 Jan 2015)

The weatherman said that the weather for Singapore will be dry and windy for the next few weeks. This is not a very good news as such dry weather has quite a negative effects on the beetle population, as can be seen during the dry spell last year. The evening weather was cloudy and cool, so I decided to go to Pasir Ris Park for my beetle photography session. I am not too hopeful about the trip given that it didn't rain much this week and I am expecting to see dust covered leaves and dying plants.

The highlight for the trip was surprisingly not a beetle, but a rarely encountered insect in Singapore ~ Mantidfly. This insect seemed to have an identity crisis and couldn't decide what it wants to be, a Mantis or Wasp.

The first beetle for the trip was a lovely Ladybird Beetle (Harmonia sedecimnotata). To my pleasantly surprised to find a number of them throughout the place. I am also delighted to be able to find the beetle in different stages of development, from larvae to adult beetle.

I was thrilled that about 1 meter from the Harmonia sedecimnotata Ladybird Beetle was another Ladybird Beetle (Heteroneda recticulata). Another lovely Ladybird Beetle.

The effect of the dry weather can be visibly seen in some areas where the leaves of plants were all looking limp. As expected, the number of insects and beetles was lower than normal. It was only after a while of walking before I encountered this common Chafer Beetle (Apogonia expeditionis).

It was another 10 minutes of walk before I come across this Chafer Beetle (Maladera castanea) which was feeding on the flowers of a low tree.

More walking before I found this lone 5 mm Darkling Beetle on a tree. This type of beetle can usually be found in small group and so finding only a lone beetle was not a very good sign.

After walking for a while without finding any beetles, this 1 mm beetle became the focus of my camera. We have a colloquial term in Singapore - "No fish, prawn also good!" (direct translation from a Hokkien {Chinese dialect} saying - meaning "better than nothing"), which best described how I felt at that moment.

The walk seemed to be getting worse as I was not able to find even the commonly encountered Adoretus compressus Chafer Beetle. It was a relief to find this small 3 mm first-time-encountered Darkling Beetle hiding in some lichens.

On the same tree was another first-time-encountered tiny 1 mm Fungus Beetle.

Coming to a patch of low grass, I was glad to find a colony of Leaf Beetle (Lema rufotestacea).

Near to the Leaf Beetle colony was a large colony of Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurudenta).

Walking further, I found a Chafer Beetle (Phyllophaga marginalis) nibbling on a leaf. It was at an odd angle so I decided to tilt the leaf a little. Just then the beetle dropped to the ground, giving me a clear shot of it. Noticed how dry was the ground.

The specials for the night was this Tortoiseshell Beetle (Aspidomorpha furcata) on the underside of a leaf.

Near to the Tortoiseshell Beetle was a first-time-encountered 3 mm Darkling Beetle, resting on a dried up tree branch.

Hiding among the roots of a wild orchid was a 3 mm Darkling Beetle.

On a tree nearby were several of this 3 mm Fungus Beetle.

I was on the last stretch of the usual path that I take at Pasir Ris Park and there was a small patch of low grass where several of this shiny 4 mm Leaf Beetle were found.

Near to the low grass patch were some chest-level bushes and I was happy to be able to find another Tortoiseshell Beetle (Laccoptera nepalensis).

Just about 30 meters from the end point, I finally found several of this commonly encountered Chafer Beetle (Adoretus compressus).

The last beetle was found about 5 meters from the end point. It was a Toe-winged Beetle and it was so hyperactive that it didn't stop for a moment for me to get a good shot of it.

The trip was considered to be fruitful given the dry weather. I sincerely hoped that there will be more rain so that the beetle population would not die out like last year.