Sunday, June 5, 2011

Crouching gecko, hidden gecko

Marbled gecko, Christinus marmoratus

Long have I lamented the lack of geckos around our place. Occasionally one would pop out from under a tarpaulin or be discovered lurking in a linen basket. Sometimes I'd spot one dashing into a dark corner of the room. But we don't have the nocturnal abundances of geckos like some other houses in other suburbs have, and really did wonder if we were going to be blessed with bug-eyed lizards.

So imagine my surprise when, about a week ago, I managed to reveal the mother lode of Gekkonidae. While fumbling with my keys, trying to open the gate, slightly unsteadily after some Friday evening drinks, the security light illuminated the sinusoidal form of a little marbled gecko firmly adhered by the toes to a hibiscus leaf.
A closer inspection with my ridiculously bright bicycle light revealed some 8 marbled geckos draped among branches and leaves in the driveway hibiscus shrubs. I have always disliked but tolerated the cultivars of Hibiscus arnottianus since they do provide nectar and gleaning opportunities for the honeyeaters, but this was a reason to appreciate them some more. A long, hard summer drought had withered the leaves and killed the upper branches, and waves of aphids had infested the crippled plants. They're not looking good, and I had considered some radical action  - but the aphid honeydew and some plant exudates are coating the leaves with sugary goodness, which the little geckos are lapping up, night after night. This is a reprieve for the plants, and now we can enjoy gecko goodness viewing every evening with a quick walk around the driveway with a torch.


  1. That is a good find! I wonder how they all found the sweet stuff? Following ants maybe?

  2. Geckos seek nectar sources as normal part of foraging, so I am guessing they encountered the honeydew as they clambered on the hibiscus - perhaps smelling / following the aphids. Geckos aphid trophic interactions have been documented around the place.. in NZ, Madagascar and probably Australia (if I searched for references), and gecko nectivory has been documented around the world...

    dunno.. but this is a honeypot. Perhaps they also nibble on the aphids as a side snack?
    Is this a short note in the RSWA journal?
    I was thinking of seeing the effect of sugar water supplimentation on gecko activity..
    We also checked other plants like the Acacia saligna, which often gets aphids and has EFNs, but no lizards. ....


    Challenges in Food-Web Restoration: An Assessment of the Restoration Requirements of a Honeydew-Gecko Trophic Interaction in the Auckland Region, New Zealand

    Robin Gardner-Gee,
    Jacqueline R. Beggs

  4. Update. The geckos clamber over an assortment of backyard plants, and I've spied them licking the sap and extrafloral nectary exudate from Acacia saligna, and honeydew from white flies on the kale.