australian insect

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Birds of prey are starting fires DELIBERATELY to smoke out mice
Scientists from Penn State University have compiled a study that suggests that fires have spread in the Australian bush due to birds dropping smouldering sticks and embers on wildlife below.

Birds of prey are suspected of deliberately starting fires to capture fleeing animals in the Australian Bush. No other animal apart from man has been recorded as starting a fire deliberately.

At least two birds of prey - black kites and the brown falcon - swoop on burning twigs and embers and carry them to unburnt parts of the bush where they are thought to deliberately start bushfires, according to witnesses…

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This post is a little bit strange, but also it has been very educational for me. A little while ago I had a previous post about a caterpillar that tried to make a cocoon and then we thought that it died and we froze it and buried it. I had posted about it and that started a discussion with @giantleopardmoth who has seen this happen before: http://anthelid-day.tumblr.com/post/140888234442/giantleopardmoth-anthelid-day 

So recently it happened again. We had a caterpillar try for 4 days to build a cocoon and it couldn’t work it out and after a while it collapsed onto the floor of the terrarium. At first I wondered if he was sick, but I remembered that post and decided to do something I haven’t done before and keep him in a container to see what happened. 

He spent several days tossing and turning and rolling around. I spent those several days hovering over him, fretting and wondering if I was just letting a sick caterpillar suffer and whether I should freeze it or not, like I did with the last one that did this. 

Then one morning, I woke up and looked in the container to find this! It shed its skin and emerged like this (note the empty skin in one of the photos)! This is what would happen inside the cocoon it would have had! It came out transparent in some areas and brightly coloured in others, looked very soft and delicate and has since darkened a bit. It still tosses and turns and rolls around a bit, but happily does its transformation in the container. It was such a relief to me to know that this is what I should do from now on and that I wasn’t just letting a sick caterpillar suffer! 

These photos is of the transformation a few hours after shedding. I will be looking after it as a stand-in cocoon until it is ready to emerge as a moth and be released. 

The interesting things we learn!