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.
Below is some of what we saw:
The larvae of at least some craneflies are aquatic, which may explain the cluster of them on the rock just above the stream.
The halteres, which are used by the crane flies to balance themselves during flight, are clearly visible in the photo below.
The larvae of most of the species in this family feed on fungus.
Red-headed pasture chafer
This is an Australian species, where the larvae can sometimes be a pasture pest.
Weevils eat plants, and this one was found on a very eaten looking Muehlenbeckia vine.
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.
Spiders also get larger by shedding their exoskeleton from time to time.
Moss / liverwort
Shield fern & necklace fern
This native vine is common on forest edges.
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.
This is a juvenile plant, showing divaricating habit, with interlacing branches.
Fungi & Lichens
Right at the end we stumbled upon a geocache. We now have a ‘travel bug’ to send on its way…
Our thanks to the folk at NatureWatch for help with identifications.