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w41

Week 41! Today I photographed some mushrooms (no idea what kind!), and a small fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster?) who was sitting on one of the “rooftops” ๐Ÿ™‚

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w40

Week 40 – Autumn is here but we still have some flowers ๐Ÿ™‚

hortus

I visited Hortus Botanicus the other day, it’s a botanic garden in Amsterdam and one of the oldest in the world (founded 1638). There are more than 4,000 plant species to see, but I spent most of my time there in a small butterfly greenhouse ๐Ÿ™‚

(1) The Julia butterfly (Dryas iulia) originates from South and Central America but because of the bright orange color it’s often called “The flying Dutchman” as orange is the national color of the Netherlands.

(2) The Zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia) can make a creaking sound by wiggling its body. They do this when disturbed but even though I would’ve liked to hear it, I didn’t want to alarm him so I still don’t know what it sounds like.

cricket

This little Oak bush-cricket (Meconema thalassinum) has been sitting on my bicycle for over a week, clinging to the basket as I’ve been biking around town almost every day ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a small cricket, about 1.5 cm long with very long antennae, usually not found on bicycles but in he foliage of trees (including oaks, where the female lays eggs under the bark).

In America, it’s known as the Drumming katydid, probably because the male drums on leaves with his back legs. (Click here to listen!)

tongue

Never really noticed it before… Bumblebees have very long tongues! But a study (Miller-Struttmann, N. E. et al. Science 349, 1541โ€“1544) has shown that bee tongues also tell a tale of climate change; warmer temperatures lead to fewer flowers which in turn yield shorter bee tongues.

When we think about iconic climate change images, we usually picture a polar bear clinging to a melting piece of ice. We (most of us, anyway) don’t think about a bumblebee, flitting about an alpine meadow with a shorter-than-average tongue. Still, it’s a very interesting study, I recommend reading it.

 

meadow

One of the best things about photographing bugs is that you can be lazy and lie down in the middle of a meadow and just point your camera to all the little critters around you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Here are some shots of the guys that kept me company in the meadow-

(1) Small copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas), which in Dutch is called “Little fire butterfly”. The name phlaeas is said to be derived either from the Greek phlego, “to burn up” or from the Latin floreo, “to flourish”. (I shot this picture through the grass and didn’t get a chance to take another one.)

(2) Lesser marsh grasshopper (Chorthippus albomarginatus), with a sound like the winding of a mechanical clock.

(3) Speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria), always cooperative and sit still long enough to have their portrait taken.

(4) Scorpion fly (Panorpa communis), this is a male as evidenced by the scorpion-like tail (females don’t have it). It’s in fact its genitalia, and it doesn’t sting! See close-up below.

icarusblauwtje

A female Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus), photographed in Amsterdamse Bos today. Living up to its name, this is perhaps the most widespread and common blue in Europe. Their lifespan as a butterfly is only 3 weeks, so it’s important to make the most of each day and really enjoy life to the full.. Like spending the day in a flower field in the sun! They’re so pretty and I’m always happy when I see one of these little guys ๐Ÿ™‚

And apparently it’s been five years since I started blogging! Yay me ๐Ÿ˜‰

w28

Week 28 already! What happened to time, more than half of the year has passed already and now the days are now getting shorter and darker again.. Not that we notice it, in the midst of Summer! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a mix of pictures of bugs enjoying the good weather we have here in Amsterdam-

Drone fly (Eristalis tenax)

A handsome fly.. Coolest guy in the park at least

This is a famous lookout point in the park, all bug tourists come here to admire the view

A female Yellow-barred long-horn moth (Nemophora degeerella)

Scorpionfly (Panorpa communis)

dock

Two close-up shots of a female Green dock beetle (Gastrophysa viridula), showing off her metallic shimmer, which can be gold green, blue, purple, violet, or red (depending on the light).

Why the name “dock” beetle? Because they mainly feed on dock and green sorrel. This makes them naturalย biological controllers and an ally to organic farmers (and an enemy of gardeners, as rhubarb is a dock plant).

How do I know it’s a female? Firstly, because she’s bigger (7 mm) than a male (~ 4 mm). Secondly, because she’s heavily pregnant! In the second picture, you can see that it looks like the her clothes are several sizes too small for her body, she’s so big that the wing cases have been totally displaced. She’s about to lay 1,000 eggs (yikes) that look like tiny rugby balls. More info & pictures in this blog post here.

caterpillars

Look what I found! Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillars, aren’t they beautiful? They’re also very useful and have been successfully introduced to several continents to control ragwort. Their bright colors are like a warning sign to birds and other potential caterpillar-eaters. If a bird would eat one anyway, it’ll learn its lesson and never do it again because they taste awful from eating the poisonous ragwort.

These guys are almost ready to go into cocoon, and when they come out they’ll look like this: /tyria-jacobaeae/

I hope I get a chance to photograph them as moths as well, and I’ll bring my camera with me next time.. These shots were taken with my phone:

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly moth :)
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