Genus Glycaspis
White Lerp Insect
White Fibrous Lerp Insect
Genus Spondyliaspis
Shell Lerp Insect
Genus Hyalinaspis
Clam Lerp Insect
Clam Fibrous Lerp Insect
Brown Clam Lerp Insect
Genus Acizzia
Wattle Plant Lice
Other Psyllids


Bird of Paradise Flies - Silver Phoenix - Callipappus farinosus

Family Margarodidae

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.
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The Bird of Paradise Fly males found in Western Australia are 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 Jarrah trees. 
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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 attached to their bodies. 
Mike Bamford, a naturalist who writes in newspaper, the West Australian, 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 side on a tree trunk and there had been bark covering them but the bark had fallen off.
The second photo shows an amazing stage of the insect, the rounded-bodied female. Margaret lifted up a piece of tin and 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 body 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 female 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 trunk. This dead female had some powdery stuff attached to her underside.
The bushland in which these creatures are living (Underwood Avenue bushland, 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 by the 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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Last updated: October 10, 2010.