August Observation @ Ecogarden, Science Centre Singapore

A Tussock Moth Caterpillar
A Tussock Moth Caterpillar (22 Aug 14)

I was inspired by a post on Facebook to make my way down to our Science Centre Ecogarden after a heavy rain one Friday (22 August) to see what insects I might spot.

It was in the evening just before 6pm and I headed straight to a row of potted plants right in front of the Eco House (in front of the Ecogarden). I had a hunch I would be able to find something interesting because I had spotted several half eaten leaves on the plant in the afternoon.

It took me about 10-15 minutes before I found a caterpillar on a leaf right at the bottom of one of the potted plants. It was only 1.5cm long, black colour with yellow back and some red colour on the head, and spiky looking. After sharing it on iSpied (an iPhone nature app) and Science It (a Facebook Page), I soon learnt that this is the caterpillar of a hairy Tussock Moth (family Lymantriidae). I was hopeful that I can visit the plant more frequently over the next few weeks to see if I am able to spot the moth.

A small insect
A small insect (25 Aug 14)

On the following Monday (25 August), I had another sudden inspiration to pay a visit to the same plant. This time round, I couldn’t find the same caterpillar but I observed an even more tiny life form, a flying insect which is about 3-5mm. While it is small, it has brilliant blue/ turquoise colour on it. I learnt later that it is a long-legged fly (Dolichopus nitidus Dolichopodidae ). It is amazing when you stop your path and start to observe things around you. It made me curious what other life forms I can find on the same plant.

Hence, two days later (27 August), I made my way down again to the same row of potted plants, around the same time. With the lessons learnt from the first two occasions, I told myself not to be too focused on finding caterpillars. Instead, I let my eyes wander and very quickly, I found myself glancing at something interesting. This potted plant that I was looking at was not just host to insects but also host to another plant! Peering from a corner of the plant where its stem was visible, I observed a thin climber plant clinging tightly to the stem of the host plant with its tendrils. I had to look several times from various angles to verify that it is indeed a separate plant. From the top or from afar, it is probably difficult to notice this separate climber plant. I thought that was pretty interesting. As I pull my glance away from this interesting find, something white and tiny grabbed my attention from the left corner of my eyes. A tiny jumping spider of about 5mm was making small jumps on the leaves of the plant. As it was so tiny, it took me a while to confirm that it is indeed a spider.

By this third occasion, I was motivated to share my observation and decided to make one more quick observation another two days later on 29 August. As I approached the pot, I spotted a weed plant growing from a drainage hole near the bottom of the pot, and subsequently an unsurprising find – an ant. The strength of life of a weed never fails to amaze me, just like all the flora and fauna I have seen at this single potted plant over a span of eight days – which I just learnt today, is the Bauhinia Kockiania.

What about you? Have you seen anything that amazes you lately?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sanjali says:

    Wow, that creeping crawling plant is incredible! I wouldn’t have noticed it had you not pointed it out! I saw something quite similar at our Ecogarden, where a palm grew intertwined with certain trees! I guess these interesting plants like to have company! 🙂

    1. Kiat Teng says:

      They are interesting indeed, Sanjali! Just like how the old leave bases of oil palm trees served as homes to ferns and epiphytes! You can see that on the oil palm in our Ecogarden too. 🙂

  2. Danny says:

    Another nice post Kiat Teng! Great how the photos are date stamped! it shows you’ve been out and about and have discovered some little beauties in the great outdoors of SCS’ backyard.

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