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tongue

Never really noticed it before… Bumblebees have very long tongues! But a study (Miller-Struttmann, N. E. et al. Science 349, 15411544) 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.

 

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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! 🙂 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 🙂

And apparently it’s been five years since I started blogging! Yay me 😉

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! 🙂

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 natural 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 :)

snails

Today I’ve been photographing snails. Not my favorite animals, but quite interesting in their weirdness 🙂

The Roman snail (Helix pomatia), a.k.a. Burgundy snail or escargot, is a species of large, edible, air-breathing land snail, a mollusk in the family Helicidae. These were introduced by catholic monks in the middle ages. The monks came to spread knowledge and religious traditions, including fasting where you’re not supposed to eat anything. Except snails, apparently! They were allowed, so the monks brought snails with them. Still today, escargots are eaten in many countries and in France alone they eat more than 500 million per year!

Look at that face.. It has four tenacles, and you can see the eye spots at the tips:

They’re very big, around 10 cm long and the shell is about 5 cm tall. In the picture below it looks like the Roman snail “attacked” or ate the Grove snail, but it didn’t. They are vegetarians, and not cannibalistic. But notice the difference in size compared to the Grove snail:

Here are two Garden snails (Cornu aspersum). I think they might have been mating, but I’m not sure. Maybe they were fighting (do snails fight?) or just hanging out together. This is another kind of edible snail, in France it’s called “Petit gris” and in Spain (mainly in the Andalusian region) you can hear street vendors shout “Caracoles! Caracoles!” when they sell these as snacks.

Here’s a little Grove snail (Cepaea nemoralis), dining on a dead leaf:

And finally, here’s a picture of a local hotspot:

 

 

basket

This Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) is having a productive day, you can see that her “pollen basket” (the real name is corbicula) is almost full 🙂

The basket is the bumblebee’s storage, it’s made out of hard hairs on the flat part on its back legs. When she walks around in the flower, pollen is collected all over her body and then she sort of “combs” it into the basket. Only nesting female bumblebees collect pollen, the males don’t have any baskets.

Zoom in on the basket:

snipers

Flies are annoying little creatures whose only point in life is to serve as food for other animals, right? No, that’s not entirely true. Without flies, we would be knee deep in rotting food, feces, decaying vegetation, animal corpses, etc. So even though flies can be incredibly irritating: consider a world without them..

Here are a couple of snipe flies, more specifically identified as Chrysopilus splendidus. Such a nice name, sounds a bit like a spell from the Harry Potter books, doesn’t it! 🙂

Chrysopilus is a worldwide genus of predatory snipe flies, there are about 300 species in the genus, including fossils found in amber.

 

treecreeper

The Eurasian treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) is a small passerine bird. They are quite common here, but often difficult to spot because they’re so well camouflaged (as demonstrated in the lower picture).

They are often confused with the Short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla), the easiest way to tell them apart is by song. The Eurasian (common) says “srrri” and the Short-toed says “tyyyt”.

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