August 2010

I saw the Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus, Bruine Sprinkhaan in Dutch) again today. I took quite a couple of photographs and I'm really happy with the one below! :)
Near to where I took that picture (in the flowerbed beside the garage wall) a Eumenes species wasp drew my attention to her nest. A beautiful urn-shaped loam construction. The wasp disappeared quickly and didn't return after I had gone inside to get my camera. I had hoped so as the nest was clearly not finished yet. After an egg has been layed in it, a couple of stunned caterpillars are shoved into the nest after which the colar is broken down and the material is used to close the urn.
I did manage to photograped other wasps that aren't very nice to caterpillars either. First a small (ichneumon?) wasp among the leaves of the Perennial Wall-rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia, Grote Zandkool in Dutch). And it took my quite some effort, but also really small (smaller than aphids for example) ichneumon wasps. I suspect at least those tiny ones are parasites of Small White caterpillars (Pieris rapea, Klein Koolwitje in Dutch), causing such damage as can be seen on a picture in the diary entry for June 19th for example.
The flowers of the Peach-leaved Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia, Prachtklokje or Perzikbladig klokje in Dutch) had finished flowering, but new ones appeared. The leafcutter bee Megachile willughbiella (Grote Bladsnijder in Dutch) was thankfully using them. I love seeing leafcutter bees gather pollen and nectar. The buzz of this species is very typical and it's nice to see how they hold their abdomen pointed upwards when visiting flowers.


Interested to learn what the Shrew I filmed on July 27th was eating I went out to see if maybe there were insects among the breadcrumbs. There were ants carrying bits of the breadcrumbs, so perhaps the Shrew is looking for those?

Hoping to clarify the Shrew-business I tried to film the Shrew from closer by. I placed the camera on the terrace after seeing the Shrew and hoped it would return. And it did! With a very nice video as result if I may say so myself. It's clear to see it takes bits of bread, not ants or something else. So Greater White-toothed Shrews are not strickt carnivores afterall.
Later today someone on the forum of that has been inventorising mouses for 15 years wrote Greater White-toothed Shrews will eat pretty much anything, so what I filmed was not something really special. Though I still think it's special to have this awesome animal in our garden. :)

I took a look at the nest of the Eumenes species wasp today and found it had been finished. Looks quite different without the collar don't you think?
Then I cycled to the garden of the Oase Foundation (, in Dutch), a trip of about 1,5 hours. I went there for a TV recording for a programme of the regional channel TV Gelderland. A long time ago I voted for the garden of the Oase Foundation for being the most beautiful place in the Gelderland region. It was on some website and I sent a motivation and a photograph I once took. Later I was called to ask if I'd like to cooperate in making a short article about why this place was so beautiful to me. I was at the garden way too early. But that was no problem whatsoever... The weather was excellent and I had brought my camera along! I photographed two special bee species I had never seen before! :) Melitta nigricans (Kattenstaartdikpoot in Dutch) is a bee species specialized in the plant Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, Grote Kattenstaart in Dutch). It can easily be recognized because the pollen of Purple Loosestrife is green and this bee collects pollen from this plant's flowers only. The green lumps of pollen can be seen on the picture below.
The other bee species was Macropis europaea (Gewone Slobkousbij in Dutch). This bee is specialized in a different plant, Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris, Grote Wederik in Dutch). It collects pollen and an oil from this plant's flowers. It is the only Dutch bee species that collects oil. Yellow Loosestrife does not provide any nectar, so Macropis europaea visits other flowers to get that, like Purple Loosestrife!
Another insect I saw on the abundantly present flowers was the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria, Stadsreus in Dutch). Indeed this hoverfly mimics the Hornet, when I first saw something flying by I thought it was a Hornet. Quite an impressive insect, one of the biggest species of hoverfly (I guess it's the biggest, but I'm not sure). I just read the larvae of this species have a diet that differs from most hoverflies. Most live off aphids, but this species larvae live on the bottom of wasp nests. There they live off waste of the wasps and dead and dying wasps.


The Perennial Wall-rocket is such a nice plant to have in our garden. Apart from all the interesting things that happen on it (with the Small White caterpillars and all their enemies), it's flowers smell so nice... Sometimes when I open the garage door to get my bike there's this gush of honey-like sweet smell. Delicious... And it's looking pretty good as well, flowering so rich. It's no surprise it's attracting plenty of visitors (bees, hoverflies and the occassional butterfly).
Another nice smelling plant is growing a bit further back into the garden. I'm not talking about the Absinth Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Absintalsem in Dutch), even though that also smells really nice. No, it's Water Mint (Mentha aquatica, Watermunt in Dutch). I remember the first time I noticed this plant species. It was in nature reserve Millingerwaard. I was following a small, unofficial path when I ended up at the edge of a pool. There was some kind of butterfly flying around there that I was trying to photograph, but it wouldn't sit still long enough. Walking around a bit I wondered what that strong smell was. It takes a tiny bit of rubbing a leave to release a strong minty smell, so imagine what happens when you walk on a whole patch of these plants... Anyway... It's growing in our garden as well now, and not even in such a wet place. Today I noticed a typical visitor, a Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata, Muntvlinder in DUtch). A small and beautiful moth that appeared to be laying eggs on one of the flowers.
Right across the path along which that Water Mint is growing what seems to be a mole hill has appeared. I'm still wondering about who dug the holes in our back garden I wrote about in the July 19th diary entry... Could that also have been a mole? Or is this hill not a mole hill at all?


A while ago Lisette and I bought a small turnip of Jeruzalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus, Aardpeer in Dutch) in the organic food shop. Not as food, but to plant it in a flower pot (when planted in full soil they are very hard to manage...). It worked really well, there's a plant of about 1,5 meters growing in the pot now. I noticed small black droppings on the leaves today... One of our bat boxes, the so-called breeding colony box, is located right above this flower pot. Could it be a bat is using it??? I took the flashlight and took a look. There was a small dark something in one of the corners of the inside of the box, but I couldn't make out what it was. I got my binoculars and gave it some effort (holding a flashlight in one hand, the binoculars in the other and pressing my face against the wall to be able to look into the hindmost of the slits the box is divided into by plates covered with meshed wire). And there it was! A little bat, no doubt of the Pippistrelle family. Awesome! :)

As I was showing my mom around in our garden I noticed a Red & Black Striped Stink Bug (Graphasoma lineatum, Pyamawants or Gevangeniswants in Dutch) on the Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa, Pastinaak in Dutch). Beautiful bugs that feed off Umbelliferae (Schermbloemigen in Dutch). Well, enjoy our Parsnip then!

Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Jakobskruidkruid in Dutch) is such an excellent insect plant, especially for bees. I enjoy seeing a lot of different bee species on the flowers of this plant in our garden. Too bad this plant is being looked upon as a pest here in the Netherlands while it's an indigenous species, valuable for the insect-fauna. It's seen as a pest because when harvested as hay and given to livestock in dried form it's poisonous. Livestock wouldn't eat fresh Ragwort plants though, they recognize them after having tried it as it's not very tasty.
Anyway, the bee on the first picture is of a species I've seen before on Ragwort in our garden. It's pretty distinctive with the red in it's abdomen, reminding me slightly of the bee species Andrena florea (Heggenrankbij in Dutch) (see the June 18, 19 and 20th). Clearly not the same though, but I didn't know what species it was. I suspected it to be a member of the Lassioglossum family and placed the picture on the forum of The conclusion was that it was indeed a Lassioglossum species, either calceatum or albipes. The difference could not be made from the picture.
Another Hymenoptera species (the order Hymenoptera is comprised of sawflies, wasps, bees and ants) I photographed was one belonging to the wasps. I thought it might be an Ancistrocerus species, and indeed it probably is (again, thanks to the abovementioned forum). What species can't be determined just by a picture though. I think it might be Ancistrocerus gazella as this is the biggest of this family and the wasp I photographed was quite big.
And then the highlight of the day! I noticed a Eumenes species wasp flying away from the garage wall behind a branch of the Absinth Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Absintalsem in Dutch), notifying me of another nest! I really wanted to photograph the wasp at her nest, so I positioned myself nearby and waited for her to return. And waited... And waited... Patience pays! There she was, with a stunned caterpillar. (see also the August 1st entry) I managed to take a couple of pictures of which only one ended up really nice (the last one below obviously). I asked about the exact species of this wasps on that same forum and was told it was most likely Eumenes coronatus.


There was a moth in our bathroom this morning. I caught it with a glass and piece of paper and took a closer look... Wow... So beautiful! I thought it was a Plume moth (the Pterophoridae family, Vedermotten in Dutch), but browsing on the awesome website I didn't find it in that family's gallery. But going through the pictures on the page with all families I found a it! It looked like the very same species, the one on the thumbnail for the Alucitidae family (Many-plumed Moths, Waaiermotten in Dutch). Turns out there are two species in this family. There wasn't a picture for species Alucita grammodactyla in the gallery, so I searched the internet for that, but that looked pretty different, so I guess the one that was in our bathroom was Alucita hexadactyla. A leaf-mining moth that uses Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp., Kamperfoelie in Dutch) as host-plant. On the excellent website (in English as well!) I found the following information: 'Usually the larvae feed on flowers and flower buds. To this end they bite a hole in a bud to enter, then devour the bud from the inside. Apparently this habit enables them to sometimes assume a leafminers habit.' I love how the internet allowes me to find out all this information about a moth a the bathroom! :)
In the back garden I noticed a Comma (Polygonia c-album, Gehakkelde Aurelia in Dutch) lay an egg on our Hop (Humulus lupulus)! Last year one layed eggs on the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica, Grote Brandnetel in Dutch) (see also the entry for August 17th of 2009) and on the Hop. There's no Stinging Nettle available this year though. The Comma that I watched laying the egg kept flying around in and out our back garden and I managed to take a not so great picture of her laying another egg on a different part of the Hop.


I took another photo of the Comma-egg today (Comma being the butterfly Polygonia c-album of course, Gehakkelde Aurelia in Dutch). I think it looks a bit darker and like there can already be seen something caterpillar-like in there. It's a tiny work of art...
A grass is flowering in the flower pot in which the Jeruzalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus, Aardpeer in Dutch) is growing. At first I though they were grasses, then I though they were Rushes (Juncus sp.). But I placed the pictures below on that well-known forum and found out they were grasses anyway. Good friend and plant-expert Kim Lotterman told me he thought they're probably Cockspur Grass (Echinochloa crus-galli, Hanepoot in Dutch). I never though of that one. We had it growing in our garden last year and I see it flowering all over the place when I cycle to work for example, but they all look very different. Probably because the ones in the flower pot are not feeling very happy...


Yet another picture of the Comma-egg, but this time it had radically changed. I guess the caterpillar will emerge either today or tomorrow! :)
I went looking for the skin of the dragonfly-larva that I'd seen back on July 24th. I'd sent a picture of that dragonfly to dragonfly-expert Peter Hoppenbrouwers, fellow member of the Bird Workgroup Nijmegen but he was unable to be sure what species it was without seeing the skin of the larva (it was either a Vagrant Darter (Sympetrum vulgatum, Steenrode Heidelibel in Dutch) or a Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum, Bruinrode Heidelibel in Dutch)). Not only did I find two skins, I also found one that was still moving! That meant it was a larva that had just climbed out of the water! So I stayed around and watched, photographed and filmed! The video takes a while, even though it's twice the original speed. As usual when you hold the mouse cursor on the pictures below there's some additional info. I added the time between each picture for the emerging dragonfly pictures.



Almost there... :)