NEWS FROM THE MEADOWS - 09. April 2021

in ecoTrain8 months ago (edited)

The minuscule Empoasca decipiens leafhopper was resting on the leaf of grass.

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It looked like a green fragment of some plant that somehow got attached to the grass.
They feed by puncturing the plants with their stylet and injecting saliva containing certain chemicals that allow them to rupture plant cells and ingest the mixtures flowing through the plant tissues.

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I photographed this Cercopis vulnerata froghopper on the neighboring leaf. Just like the leafhopper you saw on the opening shot, they also feed on plant juices, in the same way.

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There is a lot of life on the meadows, now that the temperature is high enough again, after the storm that brought even a bit of snow two days ago. Practically every blade of grass has something on display.
This is the Mediterranean spotted chafer (Oxythyrea funesta). These beetles feed on pollen, nectar and soft parts of the flowers ... especially roses, wild and cultivated.

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Here you can take a look at the Trifolium nigrescens plant. The small white flowers of this clover form lovely, almost spherical heads. On this one all the flowers are completely developed.

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Here only a few flowers are open and developed, some are almost there, and you can see plenty of buds in the upper central part of the head.

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These are the flowers of a different kind of clover. The Trifolium subterraneum. These flowers appear in smaller groups of only three ... sometimes six or eight.

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This is a portrait of the Plantago lanceolata plant. These flower heads are covered with a multitude of tiny flowers.

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Plantago lanceolata grows abundantly in some parts of the coastal meadows, and since the individual plants are close to each other, sometimes the flowers get stuck together with a little help of the silk produced by some small arthropods ...

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... I don't know exactly which animal created this interesting floral arrangement ... maybe some spider ... or, more probably, some kind of larvae ... a caterpillar ...

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... maybe one of the many Malacosoma castrense caterpillars ...

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... that roam these meadows in swarms ...

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... they often leave a bit of silk on their trails.

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This minuscule weevil, the Trichosirocalus troglodytes is feeding on the stem of the Plantago lanceolata ...

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... more or less halfway between the top with the flower head and the base surrounded by leaves at the bottom.

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This plant is an excellent food for humans as well. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach and similar cultivated stuff, but they have to be very young and soft. The plant has some very clear and strong medical properties. Older leaves can be used to prepare herbal tea or syrup ... or can be applied on skin in case of cuts, wounds, insect bites or various irritation. I use them regularly during these photo - ramblings, and from direct experience, I can tell you that this thing works fast and wonderfully. Last summer I got bitten by a swarm of mosquitoes, every inch of the skin on my shaved head was itchy and swollen ... instead of scratching myself with bare nails and provoking more irritation, I did it with these leaves and in a few minutes the itching disappeared.

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I took quite a few shots of this minuscule weevil, because it looked like some cute little alien with the big nose :D ...

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... and also because I was searching for a perfect background and the perfect pose that can accentuate all the details on the photograph ... I think I found this stuff here, on this last shot of the series.

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This is another small weevil that's using the Plantago plant as its daily food and in its reproductive cycle ...

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... Mecinus pyraster is the name of this species. Here you can see a pair mating on the stem of the plant. I took these shots with the flash on, because the morning light in the shade was pretty low for this kind of very up close photography ... the shots were relatively easy to get by I didn't like how the textures of the weevils looked on them ...

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... so I tried to get better result with slow shutter speed and only natural light ... after a hundred of motion - blurred pictures that I deleted on the spot :) I proudly present you this (only) one successful photograph of that series.

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I saw many rounded Coccinella septempunctata ...

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... and considerably smaller, slightly elongated Hippodamia variegata lady beetles ...

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... high on the flower heads of this plant ... and down below ...

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... in the intricate macro - jungle on the ground, I found the Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata ... one of the very few non - predatory lady beetle species that feeds on fungal molds on plants. I was able to take only this clear shot ...

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... before the insect disappeared in the dense vegetation.

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With this shot I'm back on the top of the plant ... this hover fly, the Melangyna labiatarum, is resting, hidden under the flower head.

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On the upper side of another flower head I found this bug, the Stictopleurus punctatonervosus.

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After this relatively long sniffing around the Plantago lanceolata plants, I continued my walk through the grass ...

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... surrounded by many minuscule flies ...

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... of various species ...

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... currently unknown to me.

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I was searching for interesting stuff to shoot with my camera, and I was also trying to avoid the hungry ticks. Here you can see the Ixodes canisuga species, photographed in the subtle morning light that can make everything seem beautiful :D

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I passed by a group of elegant Ornithogalum umbellatum flowers. Ornithogalum umbellatum it's a lovely but toxic plant. The bulbs and flowers are especially rich in cardiac glycosides, specifically convallatoxin and convalloside which are toxic to humans and other mammals. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath, as well as pain, burning, and swelling of lips, tongue, and throat. Prolonged contact may lead to skin irritation.

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I photographed this minuscule beetle nearby, and later at home, while preparing this post ... I couldn't find out the name of the species. So, I can't tell you anything about this insect, only show you how it looks.

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This colorful insect is the Paederus littoralis rove beetle.

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It's very shy and fast, and this is the first time that I succeeded at taking a relatively good shot.
These lovely beetles don't bite or sting, you can hold them in your hand if you can catch them ... but, it is important not to harm them, because even partially crushed Paederus beetle can create a skin problem called the Paederus dermatitis. I didn't know this before today.
According to the Wikipedia article, that cites the Medical and Veterinary Entomology (2009) "this skin irritation results from contact with pederin, a vesicant toxin in the hemolymph of many but not all beetles in the genus Paederus. The toxin is manufactured, not by the beetles themselves, but by endosymbiont bacteria, probably some species of Pseudomonas"

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And now ... with this froghopper nyph ...

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... and a short look at the beautiful Serapias neglecta orchid ...

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... a pretty rare flower nowadays, here in my area ... is time to end this post.
As always in this NEWS FROM THE MEADOWS, the photographs are my work, and they were all taken today - THE END.

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perfect green match 💚

:D 50 shades of green

😂

Totall beautifool anomals soo cute ;))

Cute animal anomalies :D

Ah zo naturlich ;))

Hey @borjan, wonderful collection of photos indeed. That last flower as you said is rare, is truly fascinating. Its construction is unusual, yet beautiful. Looking forward for much more of there man!

Thanks :) yes, some orchids have a very unusual beauty on display during the spring.

Beautiful sir 👌👌

Thanks :)

Борян,

Cool pictures of wildlife, keep it up!

Thanks :)

wow ... some collections of flowers and insects look cool and amazing ....

Thanks :)

The last two photos depict very strange flower! Perhaps the alien planted this one on earth a long time ago! LoL

Hehehe ... true, this could be the definitive proof of those ancient aliens theories !!!