Journal archives for June 2018

June 25, 2018

Micraspis flavovittata - Not Quite Extinct

Micraspis flavovittata is a rare Australian ladybeetle similar in size and appearance to its common sibling species Micraspis frenata. Throughout history it has only been observed or collected a very few times but in recent years a population was rediscovered where these beetles were observed over three consecutive springs (from 2015–2017).

With only a small known population in one fairly small location (although protected within a National Park) this little beetle would warrant top level protection as Critically Endangered if only we new more about it. Unfortunately it is so rare that we haven't collected enough information about it to allow it to be categorized at all (apart from "Data Deficient").

Earlier I was hoping to start formally surveying it from this spring but am currently unable to do so. Plus, without the right training or experience in such surveys I would have to scratch my noggin pretty hard and do more research. Perhaps one day someone will look into this and eventually it will get protection better than EX (extinct), which I fear may happen with habitat changes and a potential catastrophe (a small wildfire could easily extinguish their lives forever).

Although I have kept my eyes pealed for this beetle in my subsequent travels, including searching potential habitat elsewhere (such as in the western Grampians) I have been unable to find more of these insects. I haven't search the extreme east and west of the swamp in which they are known to reside so their range may exceed the currently known 4km by a few more kilometres. Hopefully one day someone will find more elsewhere and all will be good in the world.

Little is known about the life-cycle and food of Micraspis flavovittata, suffice to say adults feed on pollen in whole or as a significant proportion of their diet (much like Micraspis furcifera). I have observed the larva appearing to feed on parts of decaying plants, although this would require further study to verify.

Micraspis flavovittata on iNaturalist
Micraspis frenata on iNaturalist
Micraspis furcifera on iNaturalist
Micraspis flavovittata on ALA

EDIT March 2019: Another population has been found, see my later journal post
Posted on June 25, 2018 01:24 PM by reiner reiner | 2 comments | Leave a comment