Assassin bugs (Reduviidae) are so named because they are ambush predators of other invertebrates.

 

47 Reduvioidea Reduviidae Harpactorinae sp. Assassin bug Tp East Moore Bidaminna small

A reduviid of the subfamily Harpactorinae, from the Lancelin area

 

48 Hemiptera Reduviidae Emesinae (2) crop

A member of the subfamily Emesinae, the thread-legged bugs, from the Cape Range.

 

49 huntsman and reduviid bug weidi crop

The tables turn, perhaps? A small reduviid bug with a very large huntsman spider, Eneabba.

50 Terrestrial flatworm

Terrestrial flatworm from a cave in the Eneabba area.

 

51 Symphyla Trog (Tb) YN

A symphylan – a soil-dwelling troglobite, the ‘pseudocentipede’ or ‘garden centipede’ – found in a Yanchep cave.

 

52 RAnderson Napiers 2013 22v2

A trogloxene cricket, Endacusta sp., photographed in a cave in the Napier Range, West Kimberley.

 

53 Staphilinidae, Pselaphinae, Tyrini, beetle Tb YN (2)

A troglobitic beetle (Pselaphinae: Tyrini) photographed in a Yanchep cave.

 

54 Schizomida Draculoides brooksi crop

The tiny troglobitic schizomid Draculoides brooksi, which is endemic to the Cape Range

 

55 Cindy papilion 2 crop

Another at Draculoides brooksi at Cape Range

 

56 Exmouth pic credit unknown

The Draculoides brooksi, was named for the WASG member who first collected it, Darren Brooks.

Skeleton

 

Acknowledgement: Thanks are due to Dr Kenny Travouillon, WA Museum, for assistance with skeleton identification.

SO WHAT ELSE LIVES IN CAVES?

Apart from the troglofauna, a variety of other forms of life – or signs of past life – are encountered in caves.

The Stygofauna, or subterranean water-dwelling animals, are at home where permanent water is found in caves. They may include fish, shrimps, eels, and an enormous variety of tiny crustaceans called amphipods.

Stygobiont species display the same kinds of adaptations to underground life as troglofauna – loss of eyesight, reduced skin pigmentation (colour), and a slow metabolism which means that they need to eat less frequently.

Stygofauna may be seen or sampled by researchers and ‘dry cavers’ searching at the water’s edge or snorkelling where the water does not entirely fill the cave.

Where the cave is entirely flooded and only the cave divers can venture, they may encounter primitive life in the shape of Microbial Mantles built by bacterial communities.

Fungi and moulds may be found in caves where organic matter is decaying, including on the droppings of visiting animals. Where a cave opens to the surface only through a vertical shaft, it may act as a ‘pit trap’ for unwary animals which fall in and are unable to escape. These creatures, which never intended to be in the cave, are known as ‘Accidentals’.

Fossils can tell us about the cave environment in the distant past, and about the creatures that used to live in the area, while Archaeological Material reveals the past relationships of people and caves.

And, of course, you might encounter Cavers

Bert

The blind cave gudgeon, Milyeringa veritas, is found in caves and rockholes giving access to subterranean waters on the coastal plain of the North West Cape.

BlindCaveGudgeon1

 

BlindCaveGudgeon2

 

BlindCaveGudgeon3

With a matchstick to indicate the fish’s size.

 

BlindAmphipod CapeRange

An unknown species of blind amphipod – a tiny crustacean – found in subterranean waters in a Cape Range cave.

 

BlindAmphipod Yanchep

Austrochiltonia subtenuis, another blind amphipod, found in subterranean waters at Yanchep.

 

BlindEel NorthWestCape

The extremely rare blind eel, Ophisternon candidum, found in subterranean waters of the North West Cape coastal plain. Only a few of these eels have ever been seen. This specimen was collected in 1981 by Mike Newton, a national parks ranger and member of WASG.

 

BlindEel NorthWestCape2

 

BlindShrimp NorthWestCape

Small blind shrimps, Stygiocaris sp., found in subterranean waters of the North West coastal plain. Their food can plainly be seen through their transparent bodies as it progresses through the digestive system.

 

BlindShrimp NorthWestCape2