Great tits look for food


This 18 February 2017 video is about great tits looking for insect food among fallen leaves in the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen in the Netherlands.

Dutch birds, insects discoveries in 2016


This video from Britain says about itself:

The BBC did a short report on the Eastern Crowned Warbler at Trow Quarry on the 23rd October 2009.

Dutch site Waarneming.nl reports about 2016.

Three bird species were seen for the first time ever in the Netherlands: Siberian accentor; Siberian rubythroat and moustached warbler.

Ospreys nested for the first time successfully in the Netherlands in 2016.

Two bird species were seen for the second time ever in the Netherlands: eastern crowned warbler and rufous-tailed scrub robin.

In 2016, also insect species, new for the Netherlands, were discovered: five micro moths, six bugs and twelve flat-footed flies.

Insects, the biggest migration


This video says about itself:

Charles Anderson discovers dragonflies that cross oceans

17 December 2009

While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the globe skimmer, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world.

From Science News:

Long-ignored, high-flying arthropods could make up largest land migrations

Each year, 3.5 trillion aphids, moths, flies and their kin fly over southern United Kingdom

By Susan Milius

2:46pm, December 22, 2016

Forget honking Vs of geese or gathering herds of wildebeests. The biggest yearly mass movements of land animals may be the largely overlooked flights of aphids, moths, beetles, flies, spiders and their kin.

About 3.5 trillion arthropods fly or windsurf over the southern United Kingdom annually, researchers say after analyzing a decade of data from special entomological radar and net sweeps. The larger species in the study tended to flow in a consistent direction, suggesting that more species may have specialized biology for seasonal migrations than scientists realized, says study coauthor Jason Chapman, now at the University of Exeter in Penryn, England.

The creatures detected in the study may be little, but they add up to roughly 3,200 metric tons of animal weight, Chapman and colleagues report in the Dec. 23 Science. That’s 7.7 times the tonnage of U.K. songbirds migrating to Africa and equivalent to about 20,000 (flying) reindeer.

These are “huge flows of biomass and nutrients,” Chapman says. “One of the things we hope to achieve in this work is to convince people who are studying terrestrial ecosystems that they cannot ignore what’s happening in the skies above them.”

Biologist Martin Wikelski of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany, who wasn’t part of the study, calls these migrants “aerial plankton.” It’s a reference to the much-studied tiny sea creatures whose movements and blooms power oceanic food webs. Understanding insect migrations and abundances is crucial for figuring out food webs on land, including those that link insects and birds. That’s “particularly important nowadays as we are starting to lose many of our songbirds,” he says.

The word migration applied to arthropod movements doesn’t mean one animal’s roundtrip, Chapman says. Instead, the term describes leaving the home range and undertaking a sustained journey, maybe cued by seasons changing or food dwindling. A return trip, if there is one, could be the job of a future generation.

The migrants he studied, traveling at least 150 meters aboveground, aren’t just accidentally blowing in the wind, he says. Many of the tiniest — aphids and such that weigh less than 10 milligrams — take specific measures to start their journey, such as trekking to the top of a plant to catch a gust. Juvenile spiders stand on tiptoe reeling out silk until a breeze tugs a strand, and them, into the air. “They only do this when wind conditions will enable them to be caught and taken up; otherwise, it’s a terrible waste of silk,” Chapman says. Some caterpillars also spin silk to travel, and mites, with neither wings nor silk, can surf themselves into a good breeze.

The basic idea that a lot of arthropods migrate overhead is “absolutely not” a surprise to behavioral and evolutionary biologist Hugh Dingle of the University of California, Davis. He says so not dismissively, but joyously: “Now we have really good data.”

This smallest class of migrants, sampled with nets suspended from a big balloon, makes up more than 99 percent of the individual arthropods and about 80 percent of the total mass. They didn’t show an overall trend in flight direction. But radar techniques refined at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, England, showed distinct seasonal patterns in direction for medium-sized and larger insects.

“That’s the big surprise for us,” Chapman says. “We assumed that those flows would just be determined by the wind.” But medium-sized and large insects such as lacewings and moths overall tended to head northward from May through June regardless of typical wind direction. And in August and September, they tended southward. “Lots of insects we didn’t think capable of this are clearly doing it,” he says.

Managing such a feat takes specialized biology for directed, seasonal migrations. Many of these arthropods must have some form of built-in compass plus a preferred direction and the genetics that change that preference as they or their offspring make the return migration.

Entomologists have known some migratory details of monarch butterflies in North America and a handful of other such insects, many of them pest moths. But speculating about specialized migrants, Chapman says, “there must be thousands of these.”

European mole cricket video


This is a 2016 European mole cricket video from the Netherlands.

Tropical bedbugs back in Florida, USA


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Tropical bed bugs emerge after 60 years

11 November 2016

In 2015, a Brevard County family reported finding tropical bed bugs in their home.

From Science News in the USA:

Now there are two bedbug species in the United States

by Sarah Zielinski

9:00am, November 23, 2016

Bedbugs give me nightmares. Really. I have dreamt of them crawling up my legs while I lie in bed. These are common bedbugs, Cimex lectularius, and after largely disappearing from our beds in the 1950s, they have reemerged in the last few decades to cause havoc in our homes, offices, hotels and even public transportation.

Now there’s a new nightmare. Or rather, another old one. It’s the tropical bedbug, C. hemipterus. Its presence has been confirmed in Florida, and the critters could spread to other southern states, says Brittany Campbell, a graduate student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who led a new study that tracked down the pests.

Tropical bedbugs can be found in a geographic band of land running between 30° N latitude and 30° S. In the last 20 years or so, they’ve been collected from Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Australia, Rwanda and more. Back in 1938, some were collected in Florida. There were more reports of the species in the following years, but none since the 1940s.

Then, in 2015, researchers at the Insect Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida identified bedbugs sent to the lab from a home in Brevard County, Florida, as tropical bedbugs. To confirm the analysis, researchers went to the home and collected more samples. They were indeed tropical bedbugs, the team reports in the September Florida Entomologist.

The family thought that the bedbugs must have been transported unknowingly into the house by one of the people who lived there. But no one living in the home had traveled outside the state recently, let alone outside the country. This suggests that tropical bedbugs can be found elsewhere in Florida, the team concludes.

Additional evidence comes from the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, which holds two female tropical bedbugs that, according to their label, were collected in Orange County, Florida, on June 11, 1989, from bedding. “Whether this species has been present in Florida and never disappeared, or has been reintroduced and remains in small populations, is not currently known,” the researchers write.

Why hasn’t anyone noticed? Well, people don’t usually send bedbugs to entomologists when they have an infestation, and your average victim isn’t going to notice the difference between the two species. “Both species are very similar,” Campbell says. Not only do they look alike, but they also both “feed on blood, hide in cracks and crevices and have similar lifestyles.” Plus, there’s been little research directly comparing the two species, she notes, so scientists don’t know how infestations might differ.

Just to give us all a few more nightmares, Campbell points out something else: While there’s probably no reason to worry that the creepy critters will spread as climate change warms the globe, she says that there is a potential for the species to move north “because humans provide nice conditions for bedbugs to develop.”

New mosquito species discovery in the Netherlands


Culiseta bergrothi

From Nature Today, 14 November 2016 (translated):

During a European study on diversity and dynamics of mosquitoes, a mosquito species new for the Netherlands was found. The discovery of the mosquito Culiseta bergrothi brings the total number of mosquito species known in the Netherlands to 40. Whether the new species is actually established in the Netherlands should be examined further.

From July 2014 to July 2015 monthly mosquitoes were caught near Wageningen for a European study. The aim of the study was the identification of insect diversity on farms, wetlands and urban fringe in three European countries (Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy). In total, in the Netherlands were caught 14 types of mosquito species, amongst whom Culex pipiens and Culiseta annulata were the most common.

Unknown species

In June 2015 on the organic farm Veld en Beek in Doorwerth were found some mosquitoes that did not look immediately like a well-known species. After identification and verification in collaboration with the Centre for Monitoring of vectors (CMV) of the NVWA, they turned out to be a new mosquito species for the Netherlands: Culiseta bergrothi (Edwards, 1921). In the same study, this species was also found on farms in Sweden. It is a relatively unknown species which has been found so far mainly in northern parts of Japan, Russia and Europe such as Norway and Sweden. The catch in the Netherlands is remarkable, as with increasing temperatures more southern species are expected.

As far as is known, Culiseta bergrothi does not transmit diseases.

Wasp makes nest, video


This 2016 video from the Netherlands shows an Odynerus spinipes wasp making its nest.