The wayward continent of Australia is famous for the strange and relictual creatures that have evolved in near-complete isolation. The insects are no exception. I spent December travelling the great southern continent, and of the 3,000 exposures I took during the month here are a few of my favorites:
A male brentid weevil silhouetted against a leaf in the Daintree rainforest (Queensland).
No, there is no ledriine leafhopper to see here on this eucalptus trunk. Move along. (Bright, Victoria)
Portrait of a Leptomyrmex ruficeps spider ant (Cape Tribulation, Queensland)
A nest of meat ants, Iridomyrmex purpureus (Victoria).
Meat ants bite readily in defense of their nest (Victoria).
Winner of the Silly Antenna award: the Arthropterus ant-nest beetle (Victoria).
Australian bull ants (Myrmecia spp.) are among the world's largest ants (Victoria).
Hygropoda dolomedes showing the fang-bearing chelicerae that define the Chelicerata, a taxonomic group including arachnids and horseshoe crabs (Cape Tribulation, Queensland).
The worst enemies of ants are often other ants. Here, a Rhytidoponera victoriae scout (at left) has discovered an Amblyopone ferruginea worker and attempts to wrestle it back to her nest (Melbourne).
Amyciaea albomaculata is a stealthy crab spider that preys on weaver ants by charming the social insects into thinking she is one of them (Cape Tribulation, Queensland).
Podomyrma adelaidae, the muscleman tree ant (Victoria).
A vinegar fly in flight (Cape Tribulation, Queensland).
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.