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Australian Summer: New Life, New Year, New Colour

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Comments (10)

Marilyn Whiteley on December 10, 2007

The wonderful colour of Australian summer--and the beauty of imperfection!! Thank you for seeing and for sharing. Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on December 10, 2007

Marilyn, Greetings from the warmth of the Australian summer. Ian

Amelia Royan on December 16, 2008

I love the olive and russet colours in this photo Ian. And I wonder about the imperfections that Marilyn talked about. In the UK we have leaf cutter bees and wasps who carefully cut bits out of leaves like this. Do you know what caused the cuts in these leaves?

Greetings, Amelia

Ian Stehbens on December 30, 2008

Happy New Year, Marilyn and Amelia!

In regard to your question, Amelia, all I can say is that it is clearly the work of a caterpillar or two, but which species it is I have no idea.

We do have "cutter ants" that bite off bits of leaves and carry the pieces back to their colony, looking rather like a convoy of racing yachts without the spinnakers, as they go!

Cockatoos don't eat eucalypt leaves but they love to feed on Casuarina seed pods, thistle seeds, grass roots and bunya nuts (Araucaria bidwillii). Sadly there are not too many koalas around in this area but they would certainly devour the whole clump of leaves - no nibbling mind you.

Sorry I am not able to answer your question but I do appreciate your engagement.

Warm greetings from a wonderful summer in the south.


Amelia Royan on December 31, 2008

I love the description of the cutter ants. Do you have any photos of those Ian.

Warm wishes for a Happy New Year from a chilly foggy English morning.

Greetings, Amelia

Marilyn Whiteley on December 31, 2008

If I may come back in ... I don't have nearly as picturesque a photo of cutter ants as I wish, but I do have one, taken in Guyana, South America. You'll need to zoom all the way in to get a good view.

As I say in the comments, I noticed the column of ants and traced it for a very long way before I came to the hole to which they were going and from which more were coming.

Greetings, Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on January 6, 2009

Thanks for coming in, Marilyn. Thanks for bringing me across to this image, Marilyn. When talking to Amelia I was aware that somewhere I had seen a photo of leaf-cutter ants, but I couldn't remember where. It was yours. So it is great to see it again, and it is an excellent image revealing their work gangs.

And back to your other question, Amelia, about the eating of these young eucalypt leaves: I have seen young green grasshoppers on such leaves, systematically cutting the leaf, and they leave such shapes and serrated "eatlines". And it fits the other elements of the evidence as well.

It made it to 39C here to day in Parramatta, 41C at Penrith, and 27C in downtown Sydney (cooler because of the early afternoon seabreeze that somes in over the eastern city). Probably only 31C tomorrow.

Has that grandchild arrived yet?


Amelia Royan on January 6, 2009

I have looked at Marilyn's amazing photo. There has just been a fascinating series on TV called Nature's Incredible Invasions. They did show some ants, but not he leaf cutter ones. But they did show mice in South Australia Ian.

No news of the grandchild still. :)

Ian Stehbens on January 7, 2009

Hi again Amelia,

Glad you liked Marilyn's photo! Did you see Marilyn's Christmas present: a photo of her grandson?

Until your grandchild comes you can't go back to Norway to upload more Norwegian images to educate me on that amazing piece of God's geometry and creativity. I am not sure whether the eagerly awaited one is a first for you or not. But I realised when the first grandchild arrived that the reason we had our children was so that we had someone to care for our grandchildren.

I have lived through one of the mice invasions, Amelia, when we were living at Clifton on the Darling Downs in Queensland. It is a grain area so mice find it rather fulfilling to invade such an area, and as it is black soil clay country the wide deep cracks in the soil are perfect places for mice to hide, nest, escape. But who do they want to escape from? The snakes, dogs and cats can't even be bothered with the glut, so unless they are defensive the mice will eat them!

Warmest regards,


Amelia Royan on January 7, 2009

I did see Marilyn's Christmas present, and I thought he was so beautiful. It looks as if I'll be here for at least another 3 weeks. James, when he arrives, will be my 5th grandchild. I love the way you give a wonderful reason for having children in the first place. :)

The mice invasions didn't look pleasant at all. And because there are so many in the plague, the predators rapidly lose interest. Are you serious about the reverse predation?

Warm greetings, Amelia

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 10, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens
    • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
    • Taken on 2004/02/03 21:29:11
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/320)
    • Focal Length: 73.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/10.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO400
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash