Rare moth less rare in the Netherlands


This is a video from Japan about a Lithosia quadra caterpillar.

Translated from the Dutch Butterfly Foundation:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The four-spotted footman is a moth with no permanent populations in the Netherlands. It is a rare migratory moth, entering the Netherlands from the south and possibly temporarily propagates. This year the moth is reported strikingly more than usually.

The four-spotted footman (Lithosia quadra) was from 2004 to 2013 reported only thirty times and thus a rare moth. In normal years, zero to four individuals were reported. In good years there were seven (2006) to nine (2012) four-spotted footmen. Only in 2014, over a hundred reports came in on Waarneming.nl and Telmee, from more than fifty different locations. The past week still saw a lot.

Lithosia quadra female

Rare flies in the Netherlands


This video is called Stomorhina lunata.

Translated from the Dutch entomologists of EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten, 20 October 2014:

This year so far has seen 48 Stomorhina lunata flies in the Netherlands, far more than in recent years. Most have been reported in the southern half of our country. In 1990 the first individual was seen in the Netherlands and in recent years there was a slight increase, but this year marks a huge leap. Stomorhina lunata originates in (semi-) deserts in southern Europe and Africa, where it is parasitic on eggs of locusts.

Good bee news from Amsterdam, but …


This video from England says about itself:

Miner bee. Dasypoda altercator characterised by its hairy yellow legs.

A solitary miner bee digs out its hole with its hairy I think back legs.

On 19 October 2014, Remco Daalder, Amsterdam city ecologist, was awarded the Jan Wolkers Prize. This prize is named after famous Dutch artist and author, including about natural history, Jan Wolkers. The Jan Wolkers Prize is for the best natural history book of the year in the Netherlands. Remco Daalder’s book is about swifts.

The prize was awarded in Naturalis museum in Leiden. Remco Daalder said there that things went well for bees in Amsterdam. ‘A threefold increase since ten years ago’.

A 21 September 2014 report from Amsterdam daily Het Parool says that this year, three bee species have been seen for the first time ever in Amsterdam: Heriades truncorum; Chelostoma rapunculi; and Osmia caerulescens.

Het Parool writes, interviewing Remco Daalder’s colleague, Arie Koster (translated):

My first observation is that things go very well with the wild bees in the city, I’m pretty excited. Bees which were rare fifteen years ago I find in various places now. Dasypoda altercator, Colletes daviesanus and red-footed leaf-cutter bees are now numerous. “According to Koster a field like this twenty years ago was unthinkable.

“Everything was mowed down and city gardens were sprayed with poison. In the eighties, wild bees in the city were dying. Mid-nineties, there was change and many municipalities began with ecological management. Apparently, the past fifteen years also made ​​a big impact. I notice the effect”.

However, meanwhile, in the Dutch countryside still lots of insecticides are used, killing many honeybees.

Chimpanzees’ special tools for hunting ants


This video is called Chimpanzees’ sophisticated use of tools – BBC wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

Chimpanzees found to have favoured tools for hunting ants

In order to successfully hunt aggressive army ants West African chimpanzees will search far and wide to find the perfect tools.

The Alchornea hirtella plant is what they are looking for as this provides the two tools required for the job; a thicker shoot for ‘digging’ and a more slender tool for ‘dipping’. If Alchornea hirtella is nowhere to be found, chimps will fashion tools from other plants — but seemingly only after an exhaustive search for their preferred tool provider.

Once the chimps have located an army ant colony, they will dig into the nest with the first tool to aggravate the insects. They then dip the second tool into the nest, causing the angry ants to swarm up it. Once the slender shoot is covered in ants, the chimpanzees pull scoop up a substantial handful from the shoot to eat.

A diet of army ants was believed to be a last resort for hungry chimps, only exploited when the animal’s preferred food of fruit couldn’t be found. But the latest study, based on over ten years of data, shows that, in fact, army ants are a staple in the chimpanzee diet — eaten all year round regardless of available sources of fruit.

“Ant dipping is a remarkable feat of problem-solving on the part of chimpanzees,” said lead author Dr Kathelijne Koops from the University of Cambridge.

“If they tried to gather ants from the ground with their hands, they would end up horribly bitten with very little to show for it. But by using a tool set, preying on these social insects may prove as nutritionally lucrative as hunting a small mammal – a solid chunk of protein.

“Scientists have been working on ruling out simple environmental and genetic explanations for group differences in behaviours, such as tool use, and the evidence is pointing strongly towards it being cultural,” said Koops. “They probably learn tool use behaviours from their mother and others in the group when they are young.

“By studying our closest living relatives we gain a window into the evolutionary past which allows us to shed light on the origins of human technology and material culture.”

Tarantulas, mating season and Halloween


This video says about itself:

31 October 2013

The world’s largest spider, the Goliath tarantula is also a venomous killer that liquefies its prey. Gustavo Hormiga, a biology professor at George Washington University, explains the arachnid’s ferocious hunting strategy—and why there’s no need to fear it unless you’re the size of a mouse.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Tarantulas Are Out At Halloween, But They’re Not Trick or Treating!

Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014 by eNature

Tarantulas are a group of often hairy and very large arachnids belonging to the Theraphosidae family of spiders, of which approximately 900 species have been found on 6 continents.

Halloween is almost here and lots of folks are thinking about spiders such as tarantulas—as well as bats, ghouls and other scary creatures.

But it turns out that tarantulas have a lot more on their mind this month than trick or treating.

It’s mating time for tarantulas.

And the story behind tarantula breeding season is a tale of long journeys, deadly peril, violence and love. It’s an epic worthy of Homer.

Mating Season Is Here

Fall is the time of year when male tarantulas, having finally reached adulthood, come out of the burrows in which they have lived for the first 5 to 12 years of their lives.

Their mission? To seek out females and mate with them. A host of perils awaits the newly emerged male in the outside world, not the least of which is the female herself.

The Women Are In Charge

Female tarantulas are doing what they usually do on warm evenings: sitting in their burrows near the surface, waiting to feel the vibrations of passersby. If the vibrations feel as if they might come from a small animal such as a cricket or another spider, she will rush out, grab the unsuspecting prey item and sink her fangs into it.

Clearly, approaching a female’s burrow is not a task for the faint at heart!

As a male tarantula approaches the burrow of a female, he first tastes the silk that lies around the entrance. If he detects a mature female in residence, he responds by drumming on the surface with his legs and his pedipalps (the leg-like first set of appendages, which are very long on tarantulas). The reason for this drumming is to let the female know that he is interested in mating—and would rather not be mistaken for a meal by the larger and always hungry female.

When and if a female emerges, he continues to drum as he approaches her. If she’s receptive, she will raise up the front end of her body and allow him to grab her fangs with the hook-like projections on his forelegs. He then transfers his sperm to her with his pedipalps.

That was the easy part—the difficult task still lies ahead: he must release her fangs, disengage himself, and make a hasty retreat before she can overpower him and eat him. Even if he successfully escapes from his big date, the male tarantula is still not long for this world. Adult males (mated or not) usually die before winter arrives.

It’s Not Easy Being A Male Tarantula

As if being eaten by your mate isn’t enough to worry about, the male tarantula must also be on the alert for predators like owls, skunks, and foxes.

If he detects the approach of a hungry hunter, his most effective defense is to quickly use his hind legs to kick some of the hairs off of his abdomen. The hairs dislodge easily and are light enough to float into contact with the nose and eyes of the approaching predator. On contact the hairs produce a burning sensation.

This line of defense works well against mammals and birds, but there is another tarantula hunter out there that is an even greater threat, and it is considerably smaller than the spider: it is a wasp called the Tarantula Hawk.

A Wasp That Loves The Taste Of Fresh Tarantula

Tarantula Hawks are among the largest wasps in the world; one North American species exceeds two inches in length. They are handsome insects with metallic blue bodies and orange wings, sometimes seen sipping nectar at flowers (particularly milkweeds) in the early evening hours. Female Tarantula Hawks patrol low over open country, searching for wandering male tarantulas or for the burrows of females.

When the wasp finds a tarantula, she lands and approaches the spider directly. The spider assumes a defensive posture, raising the front legs and baring the lethal-looking fangs. Unfortunately for the spider, this posture also exposes its underside to the agile wasp, which quickly darts under the spider and stings it in a soft spot where the legs join the body.

The sting of the Tarantula Hawk contains a peculiar potion; it paralyzes the spider almost instantly, but does not kill it. The “sleeping” spider is then dragged to a burrow, pulled underground, and buried with a single wasp egg attached to the outside of the body. When the egg hatches, the maggot-like wasp larva has a huge fresh meal waiting for it. The spider is still alive, its tissues undecayed and ready for the wasp larva to devour. The voracious larva will even eat the muscles and other “nonessential” tissue before consuming the still-functioning organs.

So if you are out for a walk or a drive on an early autumn evening and you happen to see a giant hairy spider making his way over the ground, don’t react with fear.

Just wish him the best of luck. With all the perils ahead of him, he’s going to need it!

Ever encounter a tarantula in the wild? Or anywhere else?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!

USA: HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR KIDS: SEXISM AT A YOUNG AGE “We quickly located a firefighter costume for boys, complete with a bright red jacket, a traditional helmet and an axe. The girls’ version, on the other hand, is a skin-tight, short, shiny dress that’s surely flammable. It includes a fascinator (in lieu of a helmet) never before seen on a real firefighter.” [HuffPost]

Wasp catches moth, spider catches wasp video


You have to look closely at this video, as everything happens quickly. A wasp catches a moth. Then, a spider catches the wasp.

The video is by D.M. Lodder from the Netherlands.