Smile! The world is a beautiful place (^_^)

Raynox DCR-150

2018-20

Two different takes on two different kinds of butterflies-

(1) Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), photographed today with Fuji 18-135 mm + Raynox 150. Goal was to get close to the butterfly and capture as much detail as possible. Picture not edited except it’s been slightly cropped.

(2) Green-veined white (Pieris napi), photographed with Pentacon 50 mm. Goal was to capture the moody light in the forest, not so much details in the butterfly (although enough to determine that it’s a female spring brood). Picture not edited or cropped.

Would you do me a favor and let me know which one you prefer? Not saying one is “better” than the other, but just curious to know your preference. You can use the voting buttons below! Thanks 🙂


2018-15

There are many “firsts” this time of the year! Here are the first flies of the year as well –

The first picture shows a Flesh fly (Sarcophagidae) sunbathing on a staircase. Flesh flies look a lot like house flies, but are generally larger. They are gray, have a checkerboard pattern on the top of their abdomen, three black stripes running along the top surface of their thorax just behind the head, while house flies have four, and sometimes a reddish-brown tip at the end of the abdomen.

The second picture shows a Yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria), or – if you want to make the name sound a bit nicer, which could be a challenge for a dung fly – also known as Golden dung fly. I think it’s a female as she has a more of a green tone to her rather than yellow. These flies are very important in the scientific world due to their short life cycles and susceptibility to experimental manipulations, thus have contributed significant knowledge about animal behavior.

 


2018-14

Yay, first butterflies of the year! The European Peacock butterfly (Aglais io) usually spend the winters in buildings or trees, and therefore often appear quite early in the spring.  Before it goes into hibernation, it convert some of their blood sugar into glycerol which works as a kind of “anti-freeze” during the cold winter. Clever, eh! After hibernation (March or April), it will lay its eggs, often in batches of 500 (!) at a time and several layers deep to increase the chance that some will be protected from desiccation and birds. In the next coming weeks, the adults have lived for almost a year and they die of old age. Around the same time, the caterpillars of the next generation hatch and in July they form chrysalides, in August they emerge as adults, and in September they go into hibernation. And so the cycle goes on!

Note: It shouldn’t be confused with the American Peacock butterfly (Anartia), they’re not closely related.

More interesting information and pictures can be found on this excellent learning site here


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 🙂

(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 🙂 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, 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.

 


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.