in Fascinating Insects2 years ago (edited)

This episode begins early in the morning ... after one of those rare summer nights showered with heavy rain.
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The red - headed Crematogaster scutellaris ant were busy as usual ...
... around some pretty unusual yellow aphids I never saw before.
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Later, at home, I did my usual Internet research ... but couldn't find out what species is this.
Here I had the opportunity to get a cool little moment on photograph - two ants are sharing some honeydew. On the following photograph ...
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... you can see a strange creature ... that just came out as an adult insect, after its last pupating stage.
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It has raptorial forelegs, very similar to those of praying mantises ... and since this insect is an ambush predator that behaves just like some mantis when it comes to get some food ... it would be easy to believe that this is some cool small mantis ... but ...
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... if you ignore those strange legs ... and take a good look at the head and eyes ... you'll be sure that this is a lacewing. Very similar to the very common green lacewing.
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This is the strange and beautiful (and a pretty rare encounter here in my area) Mantispa styriaca, and is actually a Neuroptera, closely related to lacewings.
This Mantispa has multiple larval stages, and undergoes quite a few changes before its final, adult shape ... that resembles a praying mantis. At first the small larvae bore their way into the cocoon of spiders of the genera Lycosa and Dolomedes, and feeds on spider's offspring. After the first molt, the species has short legs that it cannot use, a small head, has jaws that extend straight out, and pointed antennae that extend beyond the jaws. Once the larva starts its metamorphosis, it pupates by spinning a cocoon inside the spider's cocoon ... and stays there up to 14 days before its final molting.
What emerges then, is no more a larva ... but isn't an adult insect either. It's wingless nymph ... that has to undergo another metamorphosis. That's what you saw on the first of this series of shots dedicated to this fascinating species, a brand-new adult, resting near the old exoskeleton of the nymph.
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I saw this insect only a few times before this photo session, and all those occasions happened long ago, when I was a kid and had nothing to do with photography.
So it was very exiting to be finally able to make this series of portraits.
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While Mantispa was entering its adult life early in the morning ... this small moth, the Yponomeuta padella, was resting on the large leaf ... on the lower branches on some tree.
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I saw many interesting spiders on that occasion ... that happened last week ... approximately ... or the week before ...
... the Agelena labyrinthica has built a large and complicate structure with a tunnel that leads deep into the intricate vegetation.
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On this, more up - close shot, you can see that has just caught some insect.
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This small spider always hangs around webs of larger species ... and has a strange mimetic shape. I did quite a few posts about these spiders and their relation with bigger Pumpkin spiders since I'm on HIVE, and on Steemit before ... but I still haven't found the name, or anything else about this fascinating species
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I saw another small, unidentified species that day. These small spiders build large (for their size) 3D webs on the trees, around the smaller branches and their leaves.
This one just exited its old exoskeleton ... and now is resting in a strange pose that can be seen only on this kind of occasions. It alters the poses between this one ...
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... and this other one ... in combination with a bit of twirling around its own axis.
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This all happened early in the morning ... and much later, after a pause for the lunch I did at home, when I returned to the woods in the afternoon ...
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... I found this ground spider, Aphantaulax trifasciata ...
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... that has made a shelter by curving the young leaves ...
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... of the Evergreen oak (Quercus ilex). This is one of the most widespread trees in these woods not far from the sea ...
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... and if you have the patience to search through its dense foliage ...
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... you can find some very cool little arthropods there. I don't know the exact species of this Lady beetle. I find them regularly on these trees.
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Here is a version with the same pattern, but the spots are on much darker background ...
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... while on this one the background is dark ... but the spots are very pale. They look like some little tortoises with that pattern.
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The females of this species,Attelabus nitens weevil, regularly roll the young leaves to make shelter for its eggs.
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The Marbled white butterflies (Melanargia galathea) ...
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... sometimes come from the nearby meadows to spend the night on the trees, hidden on lower branches ... surrounded by clusters of tiny flowers.
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These brown beetles are hiding, and feeding on pollen, here among the flowers. I couldn't find the name of the species.
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I found these minuscule hairy protuberances on the small branches.
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I never noticed these things before.
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I don't know what they are.
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This interesting protuberance was made by some wasp long time ago.
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Now is dry and empty ... the wasp's offspring has finished its cycle and left the shelter.
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I was very surprised by these cherries. They grow in dense vegetation where nobody plants anything. Maybe the seeds ended up here transported by birds, and eventually became small trees ...
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... that look like shrubs. The fruits were small and not so sweet as the ones on the big cultivated trees ... but still tasted pretty good.
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This Capnodis cariosa jewel beetle was resting on a small branch of the cherry tree ...
... and down on the forest floor, among the foliage of the ivy and thorny Smilax aspera plant ... a colorful male of the European green lizard (Lacerta viridis) was peeking from the dense vegetation.
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In the evening, when I was ready to go home ...
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... I had a short encounter with the beautiful leopard moth (Zeuzera pyrina).
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As always in these posts on HIVE, all the photographs are my work.


Your pictures are again proof that you have an eye for macro photography. I really like the pictures of Zeuzera pyrina. This moth was also to be found a little bit more often in our country this year.

Thanks. This was actually the first time I saw this moth out in the woods. I saw it before only on the facades of houses, under the street lamps or on my own house under the smaller lamp there.

Ants love their aphid beer, I wonder if those aphids produce a light beer or if it's a bit more hoppy...

The mantis fly is like a mix between a lacewing and a preying mantis, perfect little specimen.

:D They look like some light, pale drink producers ... judging by their color.

How many interesting stories do you share with us @borjan. I got caught with the mantis which is not a mantis but another insect with a unique process of change. Each part of the story is more interesting than another and so on. Thank you for being part of my motivation, you are extraordinary.

Thank you :) I'm very glad that you find these photo stories inspiring.

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I just scrolled down when I see the spiders because of my phobia hahaha but I always learn a lot with your pics. Love it!


Very good photos! The white bug there looks very different. It was the first time I saw such an insect photo.

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