Portuguese millipede

Ommatoiulus moreleti

These little guys are always crawling about somewhere in the garden. I’d never looked them up before and had always assumed it was a local centipede but after some searching I think it’s the introduced species known as the Portuguese millipede.

A Portuguese millipede. You can tell it’s a millipede because it has 2 pairs of legs per body segment. Centipedes have only one

I’d assumed it was a centipede because it didn’t have a huge number of legs. Generally millipedes have more legs than centipedes but despite the names centipedes don’t have exactly 100 legs and millipedes don’t have 1000. One of the ways you can tell what animal you’re dealing with is that centipedes have only one pair of legs per body segment while millipedes have two.

Portuguese millipedes were accidentally introduced to Australia in 1953 possibly in ship ballast. They may have been introduced on several separate occasions, they are now spread over large parts of South and Eastern Australia, they are also found around Perth in Western Australia. They have no known predators and can breed to plague proportions. In 2002 50 trains between Melbourne and Ballarat had to be cancelled or delayed because Portuguese millipedes on the rails had been squashed into a gooey paste that prevented the trains from getting traction!

Portuguese millipedes are considered a pest in Australia. Once they caused the cancellation or delay of 50 trains!

I found this one in the bush just behind our house. While I was taking the photo I got bitten on the toe by a bulldog ant. Quite painful! It started with a mild sting then over 30 minutes became a strong dull ache over my whole toe. I can’t feel any pain now but from past experience it will flair up again tomorrow.

Sources and more info

Teddy Bear Bee

Amegilla bombiformis

I’ve been unsuccessful ( [Update]Found some! ) so far in my search for the Australian native Blue Banded Bee that is responsible for these Holes and Burrows in Sandstone. I found something else though! It’s another native Australian bee called the Teddy Bear Bee.

While in the garden I head a loud buzz coming from a bush. It was of low frequency and sounded like it belonged to something of decent size. After a short search I found it’s source, a single large chunky bee flying from flower to flower. It didn’t land and instead hovered briefly in front of one flower before moving to the next. It looked similar to a European honeybee but it was larger and chunkier. Despite several attempts I couldn’t get a sharp photo, below is the best of a bad bunch.

Teddy Bear Bee in the garden

Teddy Bear bees are found in Eastern Australia ( possibly Australia wide) as well as New Guinea and the Aru Islands to the north. They are a solitary bee, females make a single nest in soil in places such as river banks and other sheltered locations.

Sources and more info

Cycad is at it again

It’s been 5 years since the cycad sprouted new leaves, it’s just done it again! According to this University of Wisconsin page many cycads produce leaves, at most, once a year. Which I take means that it could be several years between growths. Before this year the last few years have been very dry here, I wonder if the cycad has been waiting for more water before sprouting.

A new generation of leaves just starting to emerge from the center of the Cycad
They grow fast, this photo was taken 6 days after the first

This is the first time it sprouted new leaves back in 2012. All 3 times it’s been mid December.

Sources and info

Middle Harbour River Monster

Since the Covid restrictions and working from home I’ve been doing a lot more running on the local trails. While running down by Middle Harbour river in the winter months some days the water boils and churns like there’s something very large thrashing about down there! It’s happened on many occasions but it’s only been once or twice that it’s been close enough to get a decent look at. The thrashing covers a patch of water approximately 3×3 meters and is usually close to the shore. It can stop and start over a period of a few minutes, each time lasts between 5 and 20 seconds.

Could it be this? ( Photo by Jimmy Jim Jim Shabadoo flickr.com )
Or maybe this! ( Photo by Greg Chiasson flickr.com )

I’ve still not been able to catch a glimpse of what is causing it but seeing the splashes from closer up it looks like it’s a school of large to medium fish rather than one large thing.

These are the only photos I’ve been able to get. They are taken from a long distance away. Now that it’s summer it’s stopped. I’ll try to get some better pictures next Winter

Mystery creature(s) thrashing about in the river. It only happens in the winter months
This is the closest photo I’ve been able to get. I’ve seen it closer but still not able to tell what is causing this