Flies’ dinner at mushroom


This 23 November 2017 video from the Netherlands shows flies having dinner at a common stinkhorn mushroom.

This way, the fungus’ spores stick to the flies’ legs, spreading them.

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Fly diving in toxic lake


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

A tiny fly can ‘scuba dive’ in a salty and toxic lake

21 November 2017

Alkali flies plunge into the salty and alkaline Mono Lake, to feed and lay their eggs, but until now it has been unclear how they manage to survive. Read more here.

Grasshopper discovery on Vincent van Gogh painting


This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

7 November 2017

The 127-year-old grasshopper found by crews at the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is the buzz of the art world.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant today:

He has become world-famous for his sunflowers and self-portraits. But Vincent van Gogh also liked to paint olive trees. The Dutch painter made at least eighteen works between May and December 1889 about the olive groves in the vicinity of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. In one of these paintings, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art curators in Kansas [no, Missouri] in the USA have now discovered a real grasshopper.

‘Landscape with olive trees’ is a painting from June 1889. It was painted in a period when Van Gogh, often plagued by illness and emotional depression, finally could come outside the walls of the hospital. Van Gogh also preferred painting outdoors. He was captivated by the whimsical growth patterns and ever changing colors of the ever-present olive trees. So much so that Van Gogh probably never noticed that the grasshopper ended up on his canvas. …

But it was curator Mary Schafer who recently discovered with a magnifying glass the grasshopper between the green and brown colours in the foreground of the painting. A paleo-entomologist then knew that the animal missed his abdomen and chest cavity and that no traces of movement were visible in the paint. Conclusion: The grasshopper was already dead when it landed on the Van Gogh painting, presumably by the wind. …

And Van Gogh himself talked about similar things in his letters to his brother Theo. “When painting outside, many things happen. I think I removed one hundred flies from my four canvases that I sent you”, wrote the painter in 1885.

Remarkable detail: British behavioral scientists at Queen Mary College in London let bumblebees in 2005 fly around variegated reproductions of paintings by Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Fernand Léger and Patrick Caulfield. During the research, the bumblebees appeared to fly more often to Van Gogh’s sunflowers than to the works of the other painters. Also the bumblebees stayed longer at Van Gogh’s paintings.

And the grasshopper? The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has decided to keep the animal in the painting.

See also here.

Beewolf wasp buries bee alive


This 4 August 2017 shows a beewolf wasp burying a bee alive.

The female wasp does that to provide food for her youngsters. The smaller male wasps of this species don’t do that, they feed on nectar.

Albert Jacobs made this video near Venhorst village in North Brabant province in the Netherlands.

Female grasshopper lays eggs


This 27 October 2017 video shows a female grasshopper. First, she makes more space between two tiles. Then, she lays her eggs there.

Janny Rijkse made this video in her backyard in Utrecht city in the Netherlands.

Insects decline in Germany


This video says about itself:

5 September 2017

Due to a reduction in biodiversity, insect populations have declined in Europe by as much as 80%. Educators in South Africa predict the same fate for their country.

From PLOS one:

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas

Published: October 18, 2017

Abstract

Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning.

Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna.

Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.