Svalbard expedition animals news update


This video says about itself:

15 November 2012

Extremely Rare White Whale Spotted Off The Coast Of Spitsbergen

That was a humpback whale.

Translated from a blog post today by Ms Liesbeth Noor, a participant in the big Dutch Svalbard expedition:

The first day [near Edgeøya island] (last Thursday, August 20th), we immediately spotted a polar bear (from the ship and far away), which meant we were not allowed to land. In the afternoon there was a number of whales in sight, fin, humpback and sei whale. Two came quite close, the rest you had to see with binoculars.

I’ve on Friday joined a day of field work by the team of archaeologists. That meant taking sand samples around a hut of Pomors. Those were Russian seafarers around 200 years ago who had a cabin on the west coast of Edgeøya (just around the corner from where the four Dutch students wintered in 1968, three of these gentlemen are with us now too).

Translated from a blog post by participant Nienke Beintema, about 21 August 2015:

Some researchers counted the seals and collected their droppings. Others took water samples. …

Brünnich’s guillemots overhead, pink-footed geese, a pomarine skua.

Translated from a blog post by Nienke Beintema, about 20 August 2015:

And beneath flat rocks [on the east coast of Spitsbergen island], the scientists found a dozen species of mites and springtails. Which are preserved for genetic research. Are these the same species as on the warmer west coast of Spitsbergen?

Partridge and butterflies near Rotterdam city


This 2014 video is about nature reserve Koedood, close to Rotterdam city in the Netherlands. It shows partridges and insects, like butterflies.

On 23 August 2015, it was reported that rare wall brown butterflies have been found there.

Song for bumblebee conservation


This music video from Britain says about itself:

All Through The Day

24 July 2015

An arrangement of the popular Welsh Hymn, raising awareness of the plight of the Bumblebee and other pollinators.

Lyrics by Oliver Swingler
Music Arrangement by Matt Ratcliffe and Natalie Windsor

Natalie Windsor – Voice
Matt Ratcliffe – Piano
Steve Trumans – Bass
Andrew “Woody” Wood – Drums

Recorded at Deal Maker Studios Nottingham
Produced by Tom Harris

Shot on location at Rose End Meadows with thanks to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

Other footage kindly donated by Dusty Gedge and images thanks to Ryan Clarke and The Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Ants’ self-medication, new research


This video says about itself:

Leaf-Cutter Ants Biology 1210 – 2014

2 April 2014

Why do Leaf-Cutter Ants Make Good Farmers?

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ants are able to ‘self-medicate‘ by changing diet when they are unwell in first for insect-kind

Findings of study raise questions over how ants ‘know’ they are sick

Jessica Staufenberg

Saturday 22 August 2015

It appears that ants, usually seen as the ultimate self-sacrificing workers, are also not bad at saving their own skins.

Scientists have shown that ants with a life-threatening fungus are able to “self-medicate”, eating a normally harmful substance that treats the condition.

This form of “self-medication” in insects has been suspected in research circles but has never been proven until now, raising questions about how the ant “knows” it is sick.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland showed that ants infected with the fungus Beauveria bassiana would choose to eat small doses of hydrogen peroxide, which had been proven to reduce their deaths by at least 15 per cent.

The fact that most healthy ants gave the poison a wide berth – since it usually caused a 20 per cent mortality rate – appeared to show that sick ants knew the poison would help them recover.

Depending on how strong the toxic solution was, the infected ants would also either choose to eat the poison as often as normal food, or only a quarter of the time, showing they were “careful” about their selecting their doses.

Nick Bos, one of the researchers, said ants close to death in the wild also seem to know because they often leave the nest to die in isolation.

“It is not known yet how ants know they are infected, but it’s very clear that they do somehow change their behaviour once they are,” he told the New Scientist.

Jessica Abbott of Lund University in Sweden, said the study stood up to scientific scrutiny.

“I think this is good evidence of self-medication,” she told the New Scientist. “They showed that the ants deliberately ingest hydrogen peroxide when infected – and that doing so increases the survival of the ant and decreases the fitness of the parasite.”

The chemicals found in hydrogen peroxide are also present in aphids and decaying dead ants, leading the Finnish team to say ants in the wild may eat these to fight off infection.

David Baracchi of Queen University of London said that social insects in large colonies like ants and bees are vulnerable to disease, and a small percentage increase in survival rates against infection could make a huge difference to a colony.

“It is natural that they have evolved amazing mechanisms to counteract microorganisms, and self-medication is one of those,” said Baracchi. He added it may be a widespread ability in the animal kingdom (a similar phenomenon has already been found in sheep).

This new study was published here.

Are butterflies dangerous, see photo?


Red admiral

This photo by Stephen Bassett shows a red admiral butterfly on a sign in Axe Valley Wildlife Park in Devon in England, on 21 August 2015.

Rare pea blue butterflies in the Netherlands


This is a pea blue butterfly video from Spain.

Translated from the Dutch Vlinderstichting entomologists:

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday pea blue butterflies were seen in our country. Also earlier this year, there were four reports of this butterfly species. With the weather improvement which seems to come it is good to pay extra attention to these occasional wanderers from central France.

Dragonfly on sunny balcony, video


This video is about a four-spotted chaser dragonfly, on a sunny balcony, four stories high, in Berg en Dal village in Gelderrland province in the Netherlands.

Pauline Hilgers made this video.

Dragonfly migration: here.