NEWS : 31st December, 2021. FINAL DAY FOR THIS SITE (end of an era for us :-((. ). Bookmark the new URL!!
NEWS : 24th December, 2021. We'll turn off this site soon. Google has already closed lots of sections. Please prepare for this to disappear at the end of the year.
News: 12th September 2021: We can't edit this old google site, so we've had to convert it to share the new URL (so this is permanently broken from now on). Many of the old sub-sites on the original IOT have now been deleted by google. )New URL: https://tasmanianinsectfieldguide.com/. We hope you enjoy the new site.
Most Tasmanians know a little about the local insects. They are our constant companions during summer camping trips, and every so often insects move into homes or onto our pets. Unluckily, 1% of the Tasmanian population have to carry epipens just in case they have a stinging encounter with our bounding jack jumper ant. Hopefully this website will be a window revealing the wonderful diversity of the insect species in the island state.
If you ask most people there would be about 20 types of insects:
Beetles: ladybirds and Christmas beetles, then described as size and colour.
Flies: blowies, house flies, mosquitoes, march flies (killing them at the beach - especially slapping your unsuspecting friends- is a Tasmanian pastime)
Bugs: Stink bugs - Harlequins (the ones that walk around joined together as they mate. Which Tassie kid has not pulled them apart?)
Butterflies: White ones and brown ones.
Moths: described by colour, and big and small. Emperor Gum is known to most (and we don't actually have it :-) )
Wasps: bees (honeybees) and European Wasps
Grasshoppers (all are the grasshopper, but you might specify a colour or pattern)
Ants: "Pissants", jack jumpers and inchmen
spiders, scorpions, slaters, centipedes (which aren't insects at all!)
When you start to take a little more interest, you begin to notice more variety in the creepy crawlies you see....there are definitely more than 20... The more attention you pay, the more overwhelmed and unsettled you become (100s?). There are an awesome number of insects sharing this state with us (10, 000 +). While some of them bite or sting, the vast majority are completely harmless, or wrongly accused of being nasty or garden pests. Nasty or not to Humans, they play a vital role in the health of our environment.
Why be interested in insects?
Learning more about insects can be a very satisfying pastime. You may be interested to see why your garden plants are ailing, you may have just found something that looks weird and you want to know what it is and does. For parents it is a fantastic "treasure hunt" for children to learn to identify wildlife, without having to travel at all. Gardens, parks, under a rock offers wealth of insect hunting opportunities. If you have the inspiration to make new discoveries, you still can! Many Tasmanian insect groups have been poorly researched and there are many new species to be found.
What's so special about Tasmania?
Tasmania is Australia's Island state. It has an area of just over 64,400 km2 and takes up less than one percent of Australia's total land mass. Tasmania's cool temperate climate is controlled by the prevailing westerly winds (the Roaring 40's) and the oceans around protect the state from temperature extremes.
Tasmania has a wide diversity of habitats. The Western half of Tasmania is largely World Heritage Area covered with cool temperate rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest. The eastern half is drier, and was once covered in dry sclerophyll forests. It is more populated by people and has lost a higher percentage of its native forest to farmland and urbanisation.
Tasmania has been isolated from mainland Australia for around 10 000 years. The isolation has enabled some unique fauna to evolve or survive. Many species you can find are endemic to the state. Most children can immediately tell you about Tasmanian Devils and the extinct Tasmanian Tiger, but few would know of all the unique invertebrates.
Why this website?
The move from film to digital cameras opened up opportunities to take multiple photos of very uncooperative subjects. Most Tasmanians take some interest in our insect cohabitors, whether it be with irritation or fascination, but it has been difficult for everyday people to access information about them.
In 2007 doors were opened to the non-scientific community with the publication of "Wings an introduction to Tasmania's winged insects" by Elizabeth Daley. Suddenly locals could grab a Tasmania specific field guide from their bookshelf or local library to narrow down what they'd found in the backyard. It is no coincidence that many of the earliest photos in this website are dated 2008. This book is the obvious no-network accompaniment for anyone interested in identifying insects.
A book has some natural limitations, however. It can only give a sample of the insect species. Websites can grow, show video of behaviours and show multiple angles and colour diversity that could not be achieved in an affordable volume. We recommend this book as an excellent launchpad into investigating the insect world, and as a guide to know where to start looking on this site!
This website has a number of aims
to be of use to the scientific, educational and general community
to have a focus on Tasmanian insects, but be useful Australia wide
to be accessible on any computer platform and also mobile devices
to be accessible at all levels, and differentiate for different ages and stages
to be a resource that highlights the overwhelming diversity of our local insects, and their complex lifestyles
to display quality photographs and (often dubious quality) video of mostly-live insects in, to a large extent, their natural habitat
to increase awareness, and hopefully engender a respect for our six legged cohabiters
We hope you find it useful!