Eucalyptus tip-wilter bug

This little thing was in the rain gauge when I was emptying it this morning – yes, we’re having rain at last! The big lump of heat over Australia’s interior that was encouraging the bushfires in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania was preventing the monsoon setting in in northern Australia, but that’s changed and we’re on our way to getting our January average of 155 mL.

It’s a eucalyptus tip-wilter bug (Amorbus obscuricornis) nymph, according to Brisbane Insects.

Eucalyptus tip-wilter bug nymph,  Amorbus obscuricornis

Eucalyptus tip-wilter bug nymph, Amorbus obscuricornis

You all know (yes?) that a big difference between bugs and beetles is that bugs suck and beetles bite (I recently found out that pigeons suck, unlike other birds that have to raise their heads to tip their water down their throats, but that’s another story.) The lovely emerald dove that visits the pot plants on the back deck daily to sip at the water at their bases bears this out. Fancy a T-shirt that says “Pigeons suck!”? If the Big Bang Theory guys were zoologists instead of physicists, we’d have seen one already.) You also know (don’t you?) that insect eggs hatch into a form (“instar”) that is not like the adult at all, and that the first instar changes into other body forms, five in total in this species, before the adult (reproductive) form is reached. The Brisbane Insects site has a photo of the adult of this nymph, and says, “The bugs feed on new shoots of Eucalyptus trees. They [are] usually found feeding on new shoots of gum trees during sunny days. … The first two nymphal instars of this species are green and black and the last three are orange and black”.

The eucalypt tips were already wilting without the help of these bugs, but maybe that’ll change now.

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8 Responses to Eucalyptus tip-wilter bug

  1. Joan says:

    I wondered how it got the name ‘tip-wilter’ – and then you explained it. It’s quite handsome – although I suspect a lot of people don’t think so.

  2. Ken says:

    There’s a bug for everything! i didn’t know that biting and sucking was the difference – interesting. Can I use your picture and story in the next landcare newsletter?

  3. janebeau says:

    If there’s one insect I really resent, it’s the tip wilter (aka in this country as a stink bug). So profligate in their damage!

  4. kathy says:

    Roger said “it looks like an assassin bug”… so that now makes me wander off to look at the difference…thanks for the info, Joy.

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