A BUSHSLAND observer is raising the alarm as forests around Bendigo groan under the pressure of a bone dry summer.
Citizen scientist Michael Barkla is increasingly concerned as he watches species - some of which little is known about - cling to life.
The prolific researcher spends much of his time in the forest cataloguing rare insects and fungi and has become increasingly alarmed in recent years.
Apex predators like golden orb spiders are getting harder to find, suggesting species lower down the food chain are struggling, Mr Barkla said.
"I've seen dragonflies that look like they've had everything pinched out of them, they are so thin," he said.
"You just don't see that."
A dry 30 year period is taking its toll, Mr Barkla said.
Downpours east and north of Bendigo have become unreliable from spring through to autumn and average rainfall has decreased, according to research recently compiled by the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and FarmLink.
The decrease is "slight" at 30mm, but comes as the region experiences more hotter days each year, researchers said.
Last December was Australia's driest on record and central Victoria has had a "serious rainfall deficiency" in the last six months, a separate BOM drought statement shows.
Rainfall is expected to return to average in January but that probably will not change much, Mr Barkla said.
"That's like giving a starving person a small hamburger. It stops them from dying but it only lasts for a little while," he said.
"I don't think there is anyone alive who knows how long the bush can go like it's going and still be there (in years to come)."
Not enough is known about the complex web of insects, plants and fungi in the Whipstick to say what is going on, with many species across the country still being discovered by professional and citizen scientists, Mr Barkla said.
He spends much of his time in the forest cataloguing rare insects and fungi and is increasingly alarmed that some rare species have not appeared at the right times - or at all - over the last few months.
Julie Radford is an ecologist with Amaryllis Enviromantal tracking insects and flora in bushland to the city's south and has noticed wildlife struggling.
"The thing that I've noticed this season is the lack of butterflies," she said.
"Usually when I'm out surveying at this particular time of the year I'm used to seeing a whole suite of butterfly species in larger numbers.
"There are certain species I haven't even recorded so far this year. There's probably seven to 10 common species I haven't seen yet, which should well and truly be flying right now."
Thankfully, the endangered Eltham copper butterfly - which is found in forests close to Bendigo - appears to be handling drier conditions, Ms Radford said.
Scientists were already concerned about apparent declines in insect numbers.
More than 40 per cent of known species are declining and a third are endangered, a global scientific review in journal Biological Conservation suggested last April.
"We don't think too much about insects," Ms Radford said.
Take the bushfires right now: we are really worried about the impacts on our birds, mammals. Things like insects and flora sort of fly under the radar a little bit.
"But as David Attenborough has said, if humans die off the rest of the world would get on fine. But if we lose our invertebrates, our eco-systems would collapse."
Mr Barkla has begun contacting experts who he can share what he is seeing in forests between Bendigo and Kamarooka, though with little success so far.
He hopes to get more professional researchers interested in species north of Bendigo, some of which he believes have not been officially discovered yet.