Mar 2023 – Red Hill

On 22 March Alison Milton led about 10 Field Natters on a walk to explore the southern slope of Red Hill in search of fauna.

Even before we set off there were several bird species either seen or heard. A lovely flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cocktaoos flew across but I didn’t manage a photo because of the trees. I thought there was a small flock of Little Corellas but on checking a photo of one atop the mobile phone tower at home, I realised it was the rarer Long-billed Corella.

Jacky had lived in the area until very recently and was eager to show us the Coconut Ants. Some members were not aware of the significance of these ants. They have a symbiotic relationship with the Small Ant Blue Butterfly. They take the eggs into their nest, then tend the larvae until the butterfly emerges. The real significance, however, is that the ACT is the only place in the world where this butterfly can be found.

Around 30 years ago there was a colony under study in Victoria but they disappeared and it was only five years ago that Christine photographed one in the ACT, making it the first sighting in many years. We now know of several breeding locations but the locations are not generally shared to protect the species.

Lifting a sheet of discarded wood revealed a large Banded Sugar ant nest and a slug, then we headed up the slope to find the coconut ants.

We spent a bit of time on the slope moving slowly and not making much ground but there were heaps to be found. Everyone got into the spirit of the exercise and called out when the found something of interest. I think it was Morgan who found the beautiful bag case moth on the same dead tree trunk as the coconut ants.

Other sightings were tiny leaf-rolling weevils, several species of leaf beetles and leafhoppers.

The Scopula rubraria (Plantain moth) was in abundance rising up from the grass as we walked through and the Common Brown butterfly was also, well common.

I didn’t take photos of every sighting but have put most of my photos on Canberra Nature Map (I’m still working on the rest), for identification, especially for those I didn’t know.The sightings can be viewed at  https://canberra.

The collection is public and other members can add their own photos if they like.

In the two hours we didn’t cover much area but we found a staggering 65 species.

– Alison Milton

Species List

Ants (7)

Black house ant (possibly)

Camponotus consobrinus – Banded Sugar Ant

Camponotus suffusus – Golden-tailed Sugar Ant

Iridomyrmex purpureus – Meat Ant

Notoncus capitatus – An epaulet ant (possibly) tending scale

Papyrius nitidus – Coconut Ant

Rhytidoponera metallica – Greenhead Ant

Arthopods (3)

Beautiful Badge Spider – skin

Phonognatha graeffei – Leaf Curling Spider

Ambigolimax nyctelia – Slug

Beetles (10)

Chrysolina quadrigemina  – Greater St Johns Wort beetle

Euops sp. (genus) – A leaf-rolling weevil

Gonipterus scutellatus – gum tree weevil

Paropsisterna cloelia – eggs and larvae

Paropsisterna decolorata

Paropsisterna fastidiosa

Paropsisterna octosignata

Parposis atomaria  & eggs Trachymela sp. (genus) – Brown button beetle Transverse lady beetle

Birds (15)

Australian Magpie

Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike

Crimson Rosella

Gang Gang

Grey Butcherbird

Grey Fantail

Long-billed Corella

Noisy Miner

Rainbow Lorikeet

Red Wattlebird

Satin Bowerbird

Spotted Pardalote

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Welcome Swallow

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Butterflies – moths (6)

Cebysa leucotelus – Australian Bagmoth

Heteronympha merope – Common Brown

Pieris rapae – Cabbage white

Platyptilia celidotus – Plume Moth

Scopula rubraria – Plantain Moth

Zizina otis – Common Grass-Blue

Leaf hoppers (5)

 Eurymeloides pulchra – Gumtree hopper

Anzora unicolor – Grey Planthopper

Brunotartessus fulvus – Yellow-headed Leafhopper

Chaetophyes compacta – Tube spittlebug (pupae casing)

Ipoella sp. (genus) – Leafhopper (attended by meat ants)

Mammals (2)

European Rabbit

Grey Kangaroo

Other flying insects (9)

Apis mellifera – European honey bee

Black wasp

Braconidae sp. (family) Unidentified braconid wasp

Damsel fly

Echthromorpha intricatoria – Cream-spotted


Hover fly

Parasitic wasp egg

Praying mantis egg

Sheep blow fly

Other (8)

Amorbus alternatus – Eucalyptus Tip Bug Anisolabididae (family) – Unidentified wingless earwig Aphididae (family) – aphid

Creiis costatus – Shell lerp

Frog (heard)

Johnrehnia concisa- a native cockroach


Wasp galls