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-
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.
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:
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:
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.
Week 23 = June = It’s summer! And today’s a bank holiday, which is the best kind of Monday one can ask for 🙂
Here are some pictures of small lives taken this morning: (Pictures were taken. Not lives.)
(1) 2-spot harlequin ladybug (Harmonia axyridis) with two big shoulder blobs in the shape of Australia
(2) Flesh fly (Sarcophagidae) with quite impressive foot pads
(3) Hover fly (Eupeodes corollae) enjoying the moment on a poppy flower #carpediem
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Here’s a male Longhorn (Mystacides azurea) enjoying the good weather here in Amsterdam 🙂 It’s a kind of caddisfly with very long antennae (which unfortunately are out of focus). They’re very small, only 6-9 mm long so even if they’re quite common you really have to look for them. I took this picture with a Raynox 250 attached on my Fuji lens, not really used to handle it yet (the 150 is much more forgiving and easier to use) but I hope I’ll get there.
A Calliphoridae fly also known as “Blow fly”, from an older English term for meat that had eggs laid on it, which was said to be fly blown. He was blowing a bubble of water, and then inhaled it again. There are many theories for this behaviour (to aid digestion, to cool the body, being sick, cleaning their mouthparts etc.) but no one knows for sure.
A European honey bee (Apis mellifera), covered in pollen from a yellow rocketcress. Look what a happy little bee she is! With some imagination you can even see a smile on her face 🙂
She posed nicely for some shots and then took off, probably in a hurry to tell her friends all about it. When bees have found good nectar or pollen, they fly home and share the news with the others. First, she lets the others taste the nectar or pollen, so they can determine which flower she’s found. Then she performs something called a “waggle dance” which is a particular figure-eight dance. It’s like drawing a map in the air; the dance gives directions (bees have inbuilt compasses and use the sun as a landmark), the speed of dancing indicates how far away the flower is – the faster she dances, the closer is the flower.
PS. Have ever wondered why some bees buzz louder than others? It kind of sounds like the bee is angry, but that’s not the case at all. They typically do this if the pollen is hard to reach, then the bee solves the problem by buzzing loudly, and thereby create a vibration to make the pollen fall down so the she can reach it. A clever solution!
A closer look at an unfurling fiddlehead fern frond