Creepy crawlies, such as insects and arachnids often freak people out, yet these creatures are still beautiful and special in their own way.
This Aussie animal post will cover both Insects and Arachnids. Sometimes people think that spiders and scorpions belong to the insect family, but they actually belong to a different group called Arachnids.
Arachnids, insects and crustaceans all then belong to a larger family group of animals called Arthropods that all have jointed limbs.
Arachnids are animals that have four pairs of legs, no wings, an exoskeleton and their body is divided into two sections.
Insects only have three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and a pair of antennae for sensing what is around them and their body is divided into three parts (the head, abdomen and thorax).
Insects and Arachnids can be found all over the world. Some of the arachnids and insects in Australia also have related species that are found in other countries. Even so many species are unique and different from their cousins overseas.
In this post, we will look at just 12 of the unusual insects that live in the nation of Australia.
We will start by looking at three of Australia’s different spiders.
01. Australian Huntsman Spider
The Australian Huntsman Spider can be found around much of Australia. It has long hairy legs.
When the female lays her eggs she protects the egg sac aggressively and will not leave the eggs at all. She may not even eat for three weeks while she protects her babies!
Unlike many of Australia’s spiders the huntsman is not really harmful to humans. So don’t let its name scare you! A bite can cause some pain. But since this spider is not usually aggressive there is little chance of being bitten unless the spider is being provoked.
They love to live in the many bushy areas that have lots of eucalyptus trees and hide under the bark on the trees. It is also quite common for the huntsman spider to come inside homes. They can even live happily inside if they can find enough smaller spiders and other insects to eat!
At night they come out to hunt for their dinner. Their diet consists of other insects, such as beetles and also invertebrates. Sometimes they even eat small lizards and frogs.
Some spiders catch their food in a web, but huntsmans actually go and hunt their prey!
As the spider grows it needs to come out of its old skin. This exoskeleton can often be seen hanging from a tree trunk in the Aussie bush.
Huntsman spiders belong to the spider family that each has eight eyes. Their vision is not fantastic like their jumping spider cousin, but they can still see whatever food they are hunting!
02. Jumping Spider
The Australian Jumping Spider also has eight eyes, like the huntsman spider. But this spider has very good vision so that it can easily hunt its prey.
There are over 200 different species of jumping spider found in Australia and all of them are good hunters! They are not really big spiders. The biggest one grows to about 18mm (0.7in), but most are only around 6mm (0.2in) in size.
Jumping spiders make their home in a soft silk nest that they build in some bark or leaves. The spider stays safe in the nest during the night. In the warmer months of the year the female will also lay her eggs in this same silken nest.
Their diet consists of mosquitoes, small moths, flies and sometimes even other small spiders.
03. Australian Golden Orb Spider
The Australian Golden Orb Spider is famous for the beautiful golden webs that it makes and this is also how it gets its name. It is often also called the Golden Orb Weaver due to the fantastic weaving job it does with its wheel-shaped web.
Australia has over 100 different species of golden orb spider living in many parts of the country. They especially like the warm weather up in Queensland.
The golden orb weaver often builds its web between trees or on signposts. It is common when Aussies are walking through the bush for people to walk into these sticky webs! For this reason, some people find this unusual spider to be a little frightening.
This particular spider has a deadly venom. It has also been noted for its ability’ to catch and devour a small bird rather quickly when the bird flies into the sticky web.
This spider’s venom can be very painful, but it not at all lethal to humans.
04. Green Carab Beetle
The Green Carab Beetle or Saffron Beetle is an insect that lives in much of Australia.
This insect belongs to the Carabidae family, which is basically a group of ground beetles. There are over 40,000 different species of ground beetle all around the world.
This little Aussie beetles name gives a clue to how it looks. It is a dark, metallic green and also has thin ridges that run down the beetle’s body.
Very little is actually known about the behavior of this particular insect in the wild. What we do know though is that it tends to spend most of its time hunting in the middle of the night. They are attracted to lights in the nighttime.
Caterpillars and other small insects are the main things that green carab beetles like to eat.
If you find one of these in the wild, don’t pick them up. They have an incredibly smelly defense mechanism that they use when they feel afraid.
05. Giant Burrowing Cockroach
The Giant Burrowing Cockroach is found in the more tropical parts of Australia, with the majority of their population living around Queensland.
They are well known for being the heaviest cockroach in the world, weighing in at a rather hefty 35 grams (1.2 ounces).
One of the more unique things about this particular cockroach is they don’t actually have wings. While most other species of cockroach do have wings and can fly short distances.
In addition to that, they are not classed as a pest like some of their cousins. Their main food is dried leaves that they find on the ground.
This burrowing cockroach actually makes its home deep in the soil. The dig down about 1 meter (3 feet) and create their home at the end of the burrow.
Check out how big they get. They can grow up to 80 mm (3 inches) in length!
Their average lifespan is around ten years, which is huge for an animal of this size. They also make great pets for those who want something that is easy to look after.
06. Australian Scorpion
The Scorpion can be found all over the world with more than 80 different species that are native to Australia.
Scorpions are particularly well known for their deadly sting, which is on the end of their tail. There is enough venom in this sting to kill its prey almost instantly. These stings can hurt humans and cause heaps of pain, but no one has ever been reported to die from a scorpion sting in Australia.
There are some other scorpions that live in other countries that can cause death in humans. So if you see one in the wild then be sure not to touch it!
Scorpions can be found in almost every different habitat around Australia. They do live in hot desert areas, but are also found in cold and wet areas too. Each species has adapted to survive perfectly in the environment where they live.
The scorpion is a carnivore. It loves to eat many different types of insects, including cockroaches, millipedes, beetles, crickets and spiders.
The female gives birth to live baby scorpions that are kept safe on the back of their mother. The babies stay with the mother until they shed their outer shell for the first time. After they shed they each go off separately and look after themselves.
07. Australian Stick Insect
There are a number of different species of Australian Stick Insect. They can be found all over the country in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colors.
The largest of these stick insects is the Titan Stick Insect, which can grow up to thirty centimeters (12 inches) in length. This is quite big for an insect!
Stick insects are totally harmless to humans. So it is fun when one is seen in a tree to pick it up and let it walk up your arm.
The favorite food of the Stick Insect is Eucalyptus leaves found on gum trees. When they breed rapidly, stick insects have been known to wipe out all the leaves on a gum tree really quickly!
All species of Australian Stick Insect hatch from eggs. The majority of female stick insects are able to produce around 300 babies in its lifetime. Now that is a lot of babies!
08. Australian Dragonfly
There are dozens of species of Australian Dragonfly out there. It would be impossible to name them all. They can be found in all regions of Australia, with the majority of them living pretty closely to water.
The largest dragonfly in the world lives in Queensland, Australia and is named the “Giant Petaltail”! It can measure up to 12 cm (4.5 inches) in length and a wingspan of around 16 cm (6 inches). This means it towers above many of the other dragonfly species out there.
Each dragonfly has a completely different pattern and colors on their body. If you look closely then you will see awesome colors and patterns on each one!
Even though each species of dragonfly looks different their behavior is often the same. This means that they lay their eggs around water and they eat very small insects and small bits of vegetation.
Dragonflies flap their wings very fast. This photo shows one during flight.
09. Australian Bull Ants
Australian Bull Ants are native to Australia. There are over go species of bull ants that are found around the country.
You may also hear them referred to as inch ants or bulldog ants. Bull ants vary in size, but can grow up to a maximum of around 40mm (1.5 inches) long. Many though are around 15 mm (0.6 Inches) in length.
The Bull Ants love to eat other small insects, as well as seeds, sweet nectar and fruit.
They have gained notoriety around the country for being incredibly aggressive. Their stings are very painful and when someone is attacked they need to apply an ice pack to minimize the pain.
A bull ant sting is not usually fatal, unless the person stung has an allergic reaction to the ant venom!
Like most species of ant, they are very social and live in colonies with the queen ant and other workers. They also come in both winged and wingless varieties.
10. Australian Cicada
The Cicada is a small insect, which can be found throughout most of Australia. In fact, there are over 200 species of cicada in Australia alone! You are likely to find them in almost all habitats throughout Australia, but especially in the warm tropics in northern Queensland.
Perhaps the biggest tell-tale sign that they are around is the humming sound that males make due to a noise generator located close to their abdomen.
There is one Aussie cicada species called the Green Grocer. This creature makes one of the loudest sounds of any insect in the whole world!
Cicadas absolutely love their trees. In fact, the twigs often play a key part in the mating process. The female of the species will cut small slits into them and deposit her eggs.
After the eggs hatch the small nymphs drop down to the ground from the tree. The nymph then digs under the dirt and stays there for about 6-7 years! During this time, it feeds on sap from plant roots.
When it is ready the nymph comes out of the soil and climbs up a tree.
It then sheds its nymph skin. This outer skin is called an exoskeleton and can often be found attached to tree trunks around Australia.
As an adult the cicada now has wings and can fly. But it only lives a short time, usually just a few weeks. In this time, it needs to find a mate and reproduce so that the cicada lifecycle continues!
The adult cicadas main diet is the sap from various trees around Australia.
11. Australian Termites
Australian Termites can be found throughout the whole of Australia. There are over 300 different species of termite living in this vast country.
Sometimes they are called “White Ants”. They are not actually related at all to ants, but some species do look like small white ants. See the photo below.
Some species of termites in Australia have become real pests. They sometimes find their way into houses. Then the termites start to eat the timber in the walls and roof. Often the home owner does not know until it is too late and the termites have eaten all of the timber holding up the house!
Australian Termites are highly sociable animals. When you see them, they will often be in very large groups. Sometimes there may be several million of the insects in one termite colony. Check out all of the small tunnels inside the termite colony where all these small insects live!
Different termite species build their homes in different ways. Some like to build big mounds above the surface of the ground, like the high termite mound below. Others build their homes underground or hidden in trees or wooden structures or posts.
12. Cairns Birdwing Butterfly
The Cairns Birdwing Butterfly is the largest butterfly within Australia with a wingspan of up to 18cm for females and 13cm for males.
They can mainly be found within the North-Eastern regions of Queensland, especially around Cairns in the tropics.
They live mostly in the many rainforests around this area. In recent years they have also been found happily living within people’s gardens.
The female birdwing is usually bigger than the male. In the photo above they are mating. You can see that the male is smaller and is much more colorful than the female.
They will only lay their eggs if the right plant is present. This one species of plant is a large leafy vine that is actually poisonous to most other creatures.
When the caterpillar hatches it eats these leaves. The toxins from the leaves are stored in the orange spines along their body. This protects them from predators. Any bird that did eat them would die from the poison!
One of the key visual differences between the males and the females of this butterfly is that the male tends to have emerald colors spread throughout its wings. The female does not have this green hue at all.
When the male butterfly opens its wings up fully you will see beautiful, bright green and black wings when you look from the top.
The female’s wings are plain brown when open.
In this post, we have looked briefly at 12 Australian Insects. With more than 86,000 insect species that live in Australia we have just scratched the surface of these unique creatures.
My desire is that you have learned something new and may perhaps be even thinking about visiting Australia one day.
When you do travel to Australia then you may be able to see some of our own Aussie insects for yourself!