Mt Vernon Valley, Trip #52

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Aerial view of Mt Vernon Valley.

In October (2017) we wandered up the track from the end of Hillsborough Rd, along Mt Vernon Valley. The area has native bush, mixed exotic & native grassland, and rocky bluffs.

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Mt Vernon Valley.
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Stream at the bottom of Mt Vernon Valley.
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Rock face on the valley side.
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Site location, shown with a red pin.

Below is some of what we saw:


Crane flies

The larvae of at least some craneflies are aquatic, which may explain the cluster of them on the rock just above the stream.

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A cluster of lesser crane flies (Dicranomyia sp.), in the lee of a rock.

The halteres, which are used by the crane flies to balance themselves during flight, are clearly visible in the photo below.

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A lesser crane fly (Dicranomyia sp.).


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Sword-tailed cricket (Metioche sp.).

Fungus gnat

The larvae of most of the species in this family feed on fungus.

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Fungus gnat (Family: Mycetophilidae).


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Unidentified flying insect.


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Fly (Family: Lauxaniidae).

Ichneumonid Wasp?

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Ichneumonid wasp?

Red-headed pasture chafer

This is an Australian species, where the larvae can sometimes be a pasture pest.

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Red-headed pasture chafer (Adoryphorus coulonii).

Broad-nosed weevil

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A broad-nosed weevil (Chalepistes sp.).

Weevils eat plants, and this one was found on a very eaten looking Muehlenbeckia vine.

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Eaten Muehlenbeckia, that the weevil was found on.


Katydids (like all arthropods) have an articulated hard outer skeleton called an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton protects their body and provides the attachment points for their muscles.

Because the exoskeleton is rigid, it limits their ability to grow. So periodically they form a new cuticle of greater surface area and shed their old skin. Initially the cuticle is fairly soft, which allows them to expand. Then over a short period the cuticle hardens.

The katydid below appears to have recently undergone this process, and you can see the exoskeleton next to it.

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Katydid (Superfamily: Tettigonioidea) with exoskeleton.


Spiders also get larger by shedding their exoskeleton from time to time.

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Spider exoskeleton.
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Web in a rock crevice, lit by torch.


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Hole in the bank, possibly the home of a solitary bee or wasp.



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Unidentified moss.

Moss / liverwort

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An unidentified Bryophyte.


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Marchantia foliacea.

Shield fern & necklace fern

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Polystichum oculatum (dark green). and necklace fern (Asplenium flabellifolium) (lighter green, with opposite leaflets).

Subterranean clover

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Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum).

Scrambling pohuehue

This native vine is common on forest edges.

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Scrambling pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia complexa).

Common polypody

This fern occurs through Western Europe and North Africa, but is an exotic species in New Zealand. Apparently its roots are 500 times sweeter than sugar, see here.

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Common polypody (Polypodium vulgare).

Narrow-leaved lacebark

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Narrow-leaved lacebark (Hoheria angustifolia).

Small-leaved kowhai

This is a juvenile plant, showing divaricating habit, with interlacing branches.

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Small-leaved kowhai (Sophora microphylla).


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Ngaio (Myoporum laetum).

Fungi & Lichens

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Volcanic rock, with lichens.
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A sac fungi (Phylum: Ascomycota), probably covering a dead animal.

Yellow specklebelly

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Yellow specklebelly (Pseudocyphellaria crocata).

Bushy lichens

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Bushy lichen (Ramalina sp.).

Teloschistes velifer

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A bright yellow lichen (Teloschistes velifer).


Right at the end we stumbled upon a geocache. We now have a ‘travel bug’ to send on its way…

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A geocache, hidden in the undergrowth.


Our thanks to the folk at NatureWatch for help with identifications.

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A base of operations.
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Stream at the bottom of Mt Vernon Valley.



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