Rare butterflies in the Netherlands


This video from the Czech republic says about itself:

Large Copper – Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803) – male

Large Copper – Lycaena dispar (Haworth, 1803) is quite common in SE Moravia where I live and expands from there to the North and also to the West.

SE Moravian population is a part of the continuous range from there to the north of Greece and through Russia to the Far East.

In SE Moravia lives its subspecies Lycaena dispar rutilus (Werneburg, 1864).

Dorsal side of male’s pterygia is fire red with goldy yellow lustre and black comma on the front pterygies.

There are three large copper subspecies. The subspecies rutilus, or rutila, of the video lives in large parts of Europe and Asia.

The subspecies batava lives only in the Dutch provinces Overijssel and Friesland.

The third, smallest, subspecies, Lycaena dispar carueli lives only in the Ardennes hills in the south of Belgium.

The Dutch Butterfly Trust reports today about rare butterfly species. They write that on 8 August 2014, a Lycaena dispar carueli butterfly was seen in Limburg province, closest to the Ardennes in the Netherlands. This was the first time ever for this subspecies.

This video from the Czech republic is called High Brown Fritillary – Argynnis adippe – perleťovec prostřední.

In Groningen province, recently a high brown fritillary was seen. Ever since 1976, only a few vagrants of that species had been recorded in the Netherlands. Maybe, this Groningen butterfly came from the Ardennes as well?

New bee species discovered on Vlieland island


This video from the USA says about itself:

Meet the Natives: Wild Bees

27 August 2013

Follow University of Wisconsin-Madison Entomologist Claudio Gratton as he studies native bees and their habitats in search of new options for pollinating plants.

Learn more in our related QUEST article.

Warden Arden Bruin reports about discoveries by entomologist Arie Koster about bees on Vlieland island.

After 1980, over forty wild bee species have been seen on Vlieland. Probably there are more, as there has not been that much research.

This year, two species, new for the island, were seen in 2014: European wool carder bee and Hylaeus hyalinatus.

Unfortunately, the moss carder bee was not seen this year, though it had been seen in earlier years.

Colourful Dutch beetles, new book


This video from North Dakota in the USA is called Thistle Tortoise Beetle (Chrysomelidae: Cassida rubiginosa) on leaf.

Dutch entomologist Jaap Winkelman has published a new book. It is available here.

The name of the book is De Nederlandse Goudhaantjes. The word goudhaantje in the title stands for two small bird species living in the Netherlands, goldcrest and firecrest (‘vuurgoudhaantje’).

However, Winkelman’s book is not about birds. As goudhaantje is also the name of a family of mainly colourful beetles, Chrysomelidae or leaf beetles. There are over 35,000 leaf beetle species, according to Wikipedia. About 38,000, according to Winkelman’s book. Of these, 59 species live, or have lived in earlier times, in the Netherlands.

With Winkelman’s book, people will be able to discover all Chrysomelidae of Belgium and the Netherlands.

This video is called Scarlet lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii); a leaf beetle species living in the Netherlands.

Comma butterfly and fly, video


This video is about a fly, laying an egg in a pupa of a comma butterfly in Plantloon nature reserve in the Netherlands.

Christ Grootzwagers made the video.

Purple emperor butterflies in England


This is a video about a purple emperor butterfly feeding in France.

By Peter Frost in England:

Emperor brought down to earth by shrimp paste

Friday 8th August 2014

Peter Frost reveals a secret ritual designed to enhance the survival chances of the rarest of butterflies

At the end of July and for the early days of August something really unusual is happening in Fermyn Woods in the Rockingham Forest between Corby and Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Beneath the high trees, members of a quaintly named organisation called the Purple Empire arrange a special breakfast for some exotic and beautiful inhabitants.

Chief item on the menu will be shrimp paste and members of the Empire have scoured oriental supermarkets and food shops seeking out the most pungent and malodorous varieties.

So who is guest of honour at this morning feast? Why no one less than Britain’s second largest, and most spectacular butterfly — the aptly named Purple Emperor (Apatura iris). Only male butterflies are invited to the feast.

Spectacular the emperor might be, but it is also spectacularly difficult to observe. The colourful males flit high in the tree tops waiting to lure a dull female virgin to mate.

Generations of amateur but skilful lepidopterists have discovered the gloriously coloured male butterflies can be lured down, into camera range by, of all things, smelly and tasty shrimp paste.

There are several reasons why the Fermyn Woods are one of the best places to see this spectacular insect.

The woods are marshy and full of Goat Willow (Salix caprea) and Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) trees, the favourite food plants of the purple emperor’s caterpillars.

The other reason is the pioneering work by one of our greatest countryside writers and illustrators, Denys Watkins-Pitchford, who wrote wonderfully evocative country and children’s books under the pen-name BB.

Like many other wildlife writers BB had realised the huge dangers of excessive usage of DDT and other insecticide sprays so common in the ’60s and ’70s.

He realised they were destroying species like the purple emperor as well as other insects, birds and animals further up the food chain.

Watkins-Pitchford had another far more intensely personal reason for his attitude to agricultural chemical abuse.

In 1974 his wife Cecily became unwell after working in their garden while a farmer was spraying his fields next door. She died a few weeks later.

In the very garden the couple had shared the writer built huge muslin cages where he bred the purple emperor, nicknamed “His Majesty” by butterfly fans. He bought the species back from the edge of extinction.

A male emperor is without doubt one of the most elegant of all our butterflies. From some angles the wings look black with white bands — then as the sunlight catches the wing scales they light up with an amazing regal purple sheen.

The female is a deep brown and does not have any of the showy colour of the male.

If you want to spot an emperor the best time is early morning or in late afternoon. It is then that the males will occasionally flutter down to feed on animal dung, carrion, or even that tempting shrimp paste. This extra diet provides the emperor with much needed salts and minerals.

Males will sometimes spend over an hour feeding in the same place.

They are often found in woodland car parks landing on wet muddy cars.

Strangely they also enjoy sweaty humans and can often land on thrilled watchers to drink beads of salty perspiration.

Most of the time, however, they will be out of sight high in tree canopy feeding on aphid honeydew.

The males tend to congregate in very large oak trees they have used for generations. From such a high point, perhaps on the top of a hill, the males wait to pounce on passing females.

The males vying for the best and highest perches battle it out with purple wings flashing in the sun. It is a wildlife spectacular you will never forget.

When a dowdy virgin female flits by the pair fly off and settle high in the canopy to mate.

Mating over, she flies down to earth while he returns to his high emperor’s throne ready for another chance to pass on his DNA.

Meadow brown, other Texel butterflies


This is a meadow brown butterfly video.

Warden Erik van der Spek reports about butterflies on Texel island in the Netherlands.

The meadow brown is the most numerous Texel species.

Also, some close relatives live on the island: speckled wood, wall brown butterfly, small heath, ringlet (seen occasionally), marbled white and grayling.

Bush-crickets’ ultrasonic hearing abilities, new research


This video is called Stridulating Green Bush-Crickets (Tettigonia viridissima) – 2013-08-04.

From the University of Lincoln in England:

Scientists to explore how insects evolved ultrasonic hearing abilities over millennia

06 August 2014 University of Lincoln

A grant of £250,000 from The Leverhulme Trust has been awarded to a team of scientists led by the University of Lincoln, UK, to study how a group of insects evolved incredible ultrasonic hearing abilities.

A cochlear organ for frequency selectivity was thought to be unique to hearing in mammals until a similar mechanism for frequency analysis was found in the ears of bushcrickets in South American rainforests two years ago.

Scientists believe the discovery of this previously unidentified hearing organ could pave the way for technological advancements in bio-inspired acoustic sensors, including medical imaging devices and hearing aids.

The new research project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, aims to develop an integrated understanding of the evolution of ultrasonic hearing in bushcrickets; specifically how they developed cochlear-like systems in response to changing evolutionary pressures over millions of years.

Project lead Dr Fernando Montealegre-Z, from the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK, led the team who discovered the previously unidentified hearing organ in bushcrickets.

He explained: “We will study these hearing systems and their variation in many species of bushcrickets. There are around 7,000 living species of these insects, but what we know about cochlear mechanisms has been investigated in only two or three. Therefore we expect to find enormous amount of variation across species. Through data from fossils and existing species, we aim to unveil major changes in sensory ecological niches and in the auditory ecology of species which have evolved from a single ancestral species.”

Bushcrickets are among the first terrestrial animals to have evolved acoustic communication. The sound emitted by crickets is produced by the stridulatory organ, a large vein running along the bottom of one wing, covered with “teeth”, which is rubbed against a plectrum on the other wing. The ears, located on their forelegs, are used in mating and predator avoidance.

Nearly 70 per cent of the living species, measured with ultrasound-sensitive equipment, produce acoustic signals in the ultrasonic range. However, their ancestors communicated at much lower frequencies. Modern bushcrickets emerged some 55-60 million years ago. Since bats arose at about the same time, the group hypothesise that bushcrickets might have evolved ultrasonic communication and elaborate hearing organs in response to acoustic predators, such as echolocating bats.

For the first time, the group will reconstruct changes in shape and function of fossil bushcrickets’ auditory and stridulatory organs throughout the recorded history of this group, from the Triassic onwards. This will enable them to understand the selective pressures that drove the evolution of cochlear systems in mammals and insects.

The work will enable the construction of a series of biophysical models that will simulate and predict tympanal vibrations and wing resonances in extinct bushcrickets, plus the acoustic reconstruction of the bushcricket community that lived in the long-gone forests of the Triassic and Jurassic eras.

Dr Montealegre-Z said: “Findings will help to comprehend the multiple origins and diversity of auditory mechanisms in mammals and insects. Results will also open up our understanding of the acoustic ecology of extinct environments where other auditory animals lived, and not only provide insights into the lives of singing insects, but that of their prey and predators. Studying fossil insects advances our general understanding of both behavioural and physical ecologies of the forests of the distant past.

“The research encompasses several disciplines including paleontology, biophysics, physiology and engineering. The integration of these disciplines is original and innovative and will open up new opportunities to enhance the current knowledge of sensory mechanisms in living organisms, including humans.”