This page is about Bird of Paradise Flies (Silver Phoenix) that found in Western Australia.
Pictures and information are supplied by Margaret Owen in Western Australia.
- Body length winged male 10mm, wingless female 40mm
- After visiting our web page Bird of Paradise
Fly (Violet Phoenix), Margaret sent us emails and photos, telling us that
there is the similar interesting insect in Western Australia. Here we would
like to thank Margaret for premising us to put the pictures and information in
this web page.
The Bird of Paradise Fly males found in Western
silver-grey to grayish black in colour, which is
different from the one that we found in Brisbane. We
called the insects found in Western Australia the Silver
Phoenix and those in Brisbane the Violet Phoenix.
- The Silver
Phoenix females and males are in the bushland for only a
few weeks during early winter. They are found on Banksia tree trunk. Females
are seen crawling up the trunks of banksias and sometimes
- The photos show males mating with
females, a female with males attached trying to get into a
crack in the tree. Sometimes the females have one or up to six males
Mike Bamford, a naturalist who writes in newspaper, the West
has written an article in which he said that the young develop in the
females bodies. The above first photo
shows old female desiccated bodies, side by
on a tree trunk and there had been bark covering them but the bark had
The second photo shows an amazing stage of the insect, the rounded-bodied
female. Margaret lifted up a piece of tin
there was what look like a wingless moth. She was however a Callipappus but
perhaps she was not developed into an adult. She was covered in whitish powder and so was the ground around her, to a diameter of 15cms. Her
was not flattened, like an adult female, but was rounded.. Her antennae were back over her body, thus making
she look like a moth.
Instead of pre-matured adult, the rounded-bodied
female could be a matured female in 'incubation' period, i.e., the young is developing and may come out from it body
very soon. This need more observation.
- The rounded-bodied
under the tin having the young developing inside
her makes sense. Margaret went back to the bush and found a
black dead female in the open and on a dead burnt fallen-over Banksia
This dead female had some powdery stuff attached to her underside.
The bushland in which these creatures are living (Underwood Avenue
and right in the suburbs, only about 6kms from the
city) is planned for
destruction by the University of Western Australia, who were given it
government in 1908. Margaret and
her friends are fighting to preserve it.
- 1. Insects
of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University
Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p 459.
- 2. Species Callipappus farinosus Fuller, 1897
- Australian Biological Resources Study, Australian Faunal Directory.
- 3. Giant females and bird-of-paradise flies: notes on the biology of Callipappus Guérin-Méneville (Hemiptera: Margarodidae) - Gullan, P.J.; Brookes, H.M. 1998, Australian journal of entomology, 37: 2-7.
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