AN AROMATIC POST WITH PLENTY OF INSECTS

Sometimes on my walks around woods and meadows in search of small wonders from the natural world, I don't do much walking really …

(Enlargeable)

… because, sometimes, there is so much to photograph in just one place.

img_7206_malo.jpg

15th July 2021 was a typically hot summer day and I spent hours under the intense sun, in the middle of the open meadow about a hundred meters from the sea. First, I noticed a group of yellow - faced bees, some species from the genus Hylaeus of the Colletidae familly.

img_7226_malo.jpg

They were resting, hidden among the small leaves and tiny flowers …

img_7241_malo.jpg

… of an aromatic plant that attracts a wide variety of species when it blooms.

img_7231_malo.jpg

These small bees can easily be mistaken for wasps. Unlike most bees that carry the pollen on the hair that grows on their legs or abdomen, Hylaeus carries the pollen inside the organ called crop. An expanded portion of the alimentary tract used for the storage of food prior to digestion. The regurgitated pollen serves as a larval food.

img_7288_malo.jpg

On another branch, the small moth Choreutis nemorana was sucking the nectar …

img_7568_malo.jpg

… an even smaller bug, the Nysius senecionis from the Lygaeidae family, was resting nearby, well camouflaged on that surface …

img_8670_malo.jpg

… and this colorful spider …

(Enlargeable)

… the pink - white version of the Thomisus onustus crab spider, was waiting in ambush.

img_7245_malo.jpg

All that and much more was going on at the same time around the plant at the center of this post - the Mentha Suaveolens, commonly known as the apple mint … sometimes called also pineapple mint or woolly mint. On the following shot …

(Enlargeable)

… you can see how much motion can be found on this plant. Small Hylaeus bees are crawling around, some moth is feeding above them, and the Polistes gallicus paper wasp has just landed when I took the photograph.

img_7342i44_dvostruko.jpg

On a hot summer afternoon, when I feel drained and exhausted by the sun, chewing the mint leaves restores me a bit, it gives me a sensation of refreshment and I can think and concentrate better. I don't know how exactly that works, but from my experience, I can tell you that it works …

img_8144_malo.jpg

… so I was chewing and photographing … and the heat ended up being almost enjoyable. On this and the following few photographs …

(Enlargeable)

… you can see the Sphecodes monilicornis sweat bees.

(Enlargeable)

Like all bees, the adults feed on nectar … but they don't collect pollen. The Sphecodes monilicornis females lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species. The host’s offspring gets destroyed by the parasitic female or later by her larvae, which feed on pollen supplies accumulated by the host.

img_8142_malo.jpg

At one point, while I was photographing these cleptoparasitic bees in their daily feeding activities …

img_7290_samo_malo.jpg

… a moth landed in the frame ...

img_8219_malo.jpg

... the Emmelia trabealis, a very common species along the coastline and in other dry and warm areas.

img_7374_malo.jpg

This is the Pyrausta aurata, commonly known as the mint moth, a species that often uses various mint plants as the food source for the caterpillars. Often, but not exclusively.

img_8011_malo.jpg

Many small moths are visiting these flowers during the day.

img_8014_malo.jpg

Here you can see the Tyta luctuosa.

img_8017_malo.jpg

The Convolvulus arvensis bindweed is the main host plant for the larvae of this species. Here you can see adult moths enjoying the nectar from the tiny flowers of the mint. About 10 - 15 moths were present during the shooting for this post.

img_8217_malo.jpg

Acontia lucida is one of quite a few inconspicuous moth species that mimic bird droppings with the colors and patterns on their wings.

img_7371_malo.jpg

This is another Choreutis nemorana moth, a species already introduced at the beginning of the post.

img_8089_malo.jpg

This is some moth from the Crambidae ... I think ... I don't know the exact species. So this is all, maybe.

(Enlargeable)

There is a great variety of moths on these meadows. Quite a few similar looking species are present in the area, and that makes the search for the exact species often long and tedious. This time I just gave up before finding the name.

img_8091_malo.jpg

On this shot, the same moth is enjoying the nectar with the Sphecodes monilicornis nearby. While the bee has to crawl from flower to flower in order to get its meal, the moth with the long proboscis can take the nectar from a bunch of tiny flowers while standing in the same place.

img_8632_malo.jpg

Here you can see a very similar looking moth, feeding in company of a butterfly ...

img_7999_malo.jpg

... the Coenonympha pamphilus ...

img_8001_malo.jpg

... commonly known as the Small Heath.

(Enlargeable)

A bit later, I encountered two Brown Argus butterflies (Aricia agestis)

(Enlargeable)

They were busy performing their courtship ritual.

img_7318_malo.jpg

Male butterfly of many species spend a lot of time defending their territories.

(Enlargeable)

These territorial activities include aerial fights in which the veterans end up loosing a lot of their scales from the wings, and therefore the intense colors get lost as well.

(Enlargeable)

This Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus) has seen better days ... but even in this washed out edition ...

(Enlargeable)

... the butterfly is still beautiful. Still elegant, only in a different way.

img_8597_malo.jpg

Here you can see another butterfly from the same family as the previous two species.

img_8633_malo.jpg

This is the Lycaena phlaeas, commonly known as the Small Copper ...

img_8627_malo.jpg

... and the family is Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged butterflies).

img_8631_malo.jpg

While photographing these lovely butterflies ...

img_8615_malo.jpg

... I noticed an interesting inchworm.

(Enlargeable)

It looked like some green part of the plant itself, at first.

img_8620_malo.jpg

Only when it moved, I realized that a caterpillar was in the frame.

img_8618_malo.jpg

The inchworm was chewing the anthers of the flowers.

(Enlargeable)

This is the larval stage of some moth, but I don't know what kind of moth will this inchworm become.

img_7536_samomalo.jpg

While some insects that I encountered that day were incospicous and well camouflaged, many were quite colorful ... like this Tachinid fly, the Gymnosoma rotundatum, ad example ...

(Enlargeable)

... and the Apion frumentarium beetle ...

(Enlargeable)

... an apionid weevil that feeds and reproduces on various Rumex plants ... like the Curly Dock (Rumex crispus), ad example ... that grew abundantly all around the Apple Mint plants.

(Enlargeable)

The plants on which all these photographs were taken, looked like a small, green, flower - covered island surrounded by the sea of dried out grass.

img_8214_malo.jpg

Do you remember the colorful, pink - white spider from the beginning of this post? The Thomisus onustus? Well, here you can see a very different, pale version of the same crab spider species.

img_8208_malo.jpg

On the nearby plant of the same kind, I photographed another colorful spider ...

img_8166_malo.jpg

... from the Philodromidae (Running Crab Spiders) family this time.

(Enlargeable)

Philodromus aureolus is the name of this species. The color can vary from pale brown, almost white, to vivid colors like on this specimen.

img_7302_malo.jpg

While the spiders were waiting in ambush, various small, wild bees were buzzing around. Here you can see another yellow - faced bee ... with the head deep in the flower. The post started with this species, but the bees on those opening photographs were just resting. Here you can see this insect during the feeding action.

img_7990_malo.jpg

Here you can see some considerably bigger wild bee. I don't know what species is this.

img_7860_malo.jpg

One colorful, medium-sized wasp was also very active around the flowers ...

(Enlargeable)

... the Philanthus triangulum.

(Enlargeable)

On this enlargeable shot, you can see the Philanthus triangulum feeding among the yellow - faced bees. Adult wasps eat only nectar, and they don't look like a threat to bees ...

img_8604_malo.jpg

... but the common name of this species is the European Beewolf.

(Enlargeable)

Only the females hunt various bees, including the honeybees (Apis mellifera), which are paralysed with the stinger. Each brood cell in the underground nest is provisioned with between one and five bees for the larva.

img_8613_malo.jpg

I saw this wasp many times before, but I didn't know anything about its behavior. Only when I took these photographs, I felt inspired to search for the name of the species, and so I found out the interesting story of the European beewolf.

img_7942_malo.jpg

At one point, while walking around the mint plants, I noticed a minuscule black dot in motion.

(Enlargeable)

Only after taking a better look through the macro lens ...

img_7929_malo.jpg

... I saw what looked like some kind of bug ...

(Enlargeable)

... and in fact - it was a bug.

(Enlargeable)

Earlier today, while preparing the post, I found out that this is the Geocoris erythrocephalus, a very distinctive bug from the Geocoridae family, a family commonly known as Big-eyed bugs.

img_8152_malo.jpg

These pair of Beosus maritimus, bugs from the Lygaeidae family ...

(Enlargeable)

... was mating, well hidden in the intricate mes of many leaves and branches on the lower part of the plant.

img_8654_malo.jpg

Here you can see yet another bug ... from a completely different family.

img_8639_malo.jpg

This is the Camptopus lateralis from the Alydidae (Broad-headed bugs) family.

img_8637_malo.jpg

On this shot, some minuscule insect is flying, blurred in the background. That's why the photograph entered the post.

img_7559_malo.jpg

This Tachinid fly, the Cylindromyia Bicolor ...

img_8007_malo.jpg

... is visiting the flowers for nectar and pollen.

img_7363_malo.jpg

Some grasshoppers were also present on the mint that day.

img_7362_malo.jpg

This is some relatively small nymph that will look different once its development is completed. I can't tell you the name of the species. You can also see the Geocoris erythrocephalus on this shot, slightly blurred in the lower central part of the picture.

img_8178_malo.jpg

This is some considerably bigger and more developed nymph ...

img_8180_malo.jpg

... and here again - can't tell you the name of the species.

img_8503_malo.jpg

The green nymph of the very big Anacridium aegyptium grasshopper ...

img_8507_malo.jpg

... is very hard to notice on this plant.

img_8504_malo.jpg

The colors and markings provide a nice camouflage.

img_8502_malo.jpg

As nymphs, these grasshoppers can be green, brown and gray ... in various shades of those colors.

img_7551_malo.jpg

And now ...

img_7546_malo.jpg

... with this Brown Argus butterfly ...

img_8599_malo.jpg

... and the last look at the Sphecodes monilicornis bee ... is time to end this little journey.

As always in these posts on HIVE, the photographs are my work - THE END.

H2
H3
H4
3 columns
2 columns
1 column
28 Comments