THERE IS ALWAYS SOME ACTION AROUND MY ELDERBERRY TREE (A Tree Tuesday post)

in Agricultural Mindset7 days ago

There is a relatively small elderberry tree in my yard.

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The tree is standing in front of the house ...

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... near the place where I often clean the fish, and some other stuff.

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The branches are spread above the outdoor sink ...

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... so in late spring, the blooming time for elderberries in this area ...

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... everything gets covered with tiny flowers ...

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... that look like fallen stars.

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The flowers grow in large clusters ...

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... and I often encounter various insects on them. In these five photographs, you can see the Coccinella septempunctata ladybeetle.

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When it comes to insects ...

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... even more of them can be found on the leaves and branches in this period.

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The voracious aphids are present in big numbers.

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They form large colonies ...

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... that suck the sap of the plant. Aphis sambuci is the name of this species that feeds and reproduces mainly and primarily on this kind of tree, the Sambucus nigra, and some related Sambucus plants.

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Here you can see the minuscule yellow eggs of the Harmonia axyridis ladybeetle, laid strategically close to the colony.

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When the larvae hatch, there will be plenty of food at hand. The larvae on these two photographs are pretty big and will go through a metamorphosis soon.

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When ready to pupate, the larvae shed their skin, and this little thing appears, attached to the leaf.

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In three to five days metamorphosis is done, and the adult ladybeetle is ready to come out. The colors and markings of this species are very variable. In the following three photographs ...

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... you can follow the metamorphosis of another Harmonia axyridis that looks quite different. These shots were taken some weeks later when the flowers have turned into fruits.

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Harmonia axyridis is commonly known as a harlequin or Asian ladybeetle. They are native to eastern Asia, but currently present in many other parts of the world. It was introduced in Europe during the mid 90' as biological pest control, and since 2002 is firmly established like any other European species.

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Here you can see two pretty different-looking Harmonia axyridis mating.

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With many aphids around ...

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... there is a nice variety of predators.

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The fluffy white thing in this photograph is a larva of some small ladybeetle from the genus Scymnus of the Coccinellidae family. It's hard to be sure about the species in absence of adult insects. Most of the larvae from this group of ladybeetles look practically the same.

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In this photograph, besides the Scymnus larva, you can also see the much larger larva of another insect, some fly from the Syrphidae family.

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Here you can take a better, more up-close look at the minuscule ladybeetle larva covered with waxy filaments that form protective tufts that can repel some predators. On this and the following shot ...

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... the larva is photographed near the Deraeocoris flavilinea bug. This species from the Miridae family isn't a predator. It feeds on sap, just like the aphids.

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The Syrphid larvae were pretty numerous.

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There was plenty of food for them.

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I don't know how exactly looks the adult version of this species.

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This is another, slightly different larva of another Syrphidae species.

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On these shots, you can see it in action, while devouring an aphid.

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In between meals, when the larva is quiet, you can see aphids crawling across its body.

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Here you can see a different Syrphid in the hunt ...

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... and here ...

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... the larva is quiet again, surrounded by aphids.

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When the larvae are ready for the big change ...

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... they turn into pupae that look like this.

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Here you can see yet another, slightly different Syrphid larva.

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When I'm cleaning the fish under the tree in bloom ...

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... as the flowers are falling all around ...

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... some carrion insects appear on the scene, attracted by the fish blood and intestines.

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This is the Dermestes undulatus, a beetle that feeds on carcasses and dry animal products.

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Larvae of these green bottle flies (Lucilia sericata) also need that kind of food to grow and develop.

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The ants on this collection of six photographs are collecting the nutrient eggs of the flies that will become the food for the colony under the bark of the tree. Crematogaster scutellaris is the name of this colorful species.

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Sometimes, with the falling flowers ...

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... an aphid can fall as well.

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The ant will bring the fallen aphid back on the tree, and put him in the herd that ants are controlling and protecting for the reward which comes in the form of a sweet liquid called honeydew, excreted by aphids.

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There is plenty of action during this blooming period ...

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... but also later, a week or two later, when the flowers are mostly fallen ...

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... and the intricate, flower-carrying structures on the tree look like this ...

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... as the little green fruits are starting to form, you can find many interesting species to photograph. In this enlargeable photograph, you can see a bunch of small, young shield bug nymphs, while in the following one ...

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... you can take a better, more up-close look at the nymph that just came out of its old exoskeleton. These are the small, not completely developed versions of the Nezara viridula stink bug.

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The aphids are still present on the foliage.

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Ladybeetles are laying their eggs.

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Here you can see the larva of the Hippodamia variegata ladybeetle, while in the following shot ...

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... you can take a more up-close look at the same thing.

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Here you can see the pupa of this species.

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While many aphids get eaten by predatory larvae that crawl through the colonies ...

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... some of them get attacked in a different way.

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These swollen, bulbous ones carry the wasp larvae and will get eaten from inside. The minuscule parasitic wasp lays an egg in the aphid, so the larva has fresh food for its development. When ready, the small wasp comes out of the empty, swollen exoskeleton and flies away.

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The adult red soldier beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) feed on nectar, pollen, and aphids.

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The Formica fusca ants feed mainly on various small insects and their larvae, but they like also nectar and honeydew.

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Here you can see some small Scymnus larva ...

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... dragging an aphid ...

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... along the trunk of the tree.

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Nearby, another larva of the same kind was passing by another aphid without attacking.

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At one point the two larvae got close to each other, so I was able to take a few shots with both of them in the frame.

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The Crematogaster scutellaris on this photograph is carrying the larvae of the Homotoma ficus. They also produce honeydew, but these small Psyllids feed and reproduce only on the fig trees that grow a couple of meters from the elderberry, so I don't know what's the ant's plan here.

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These ants were very active ...

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... on the trunk of the tree ...

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... back then, in the first days of July ...

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... when this relatively long series of photographs was taken ...

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... so I spent many hours observing them ...

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... fascinated by their activities.

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This species builds intricate tunnels under the bark and in the rotten areas of the trunk.

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The nests in the interior are made with a mixture of chewed wood and humus.

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As food, the workers collect and carry mainly sugary liquid substances and remains of arthropods, small insects, and stuff like that.

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This species has a typically Mediterranean distribution.

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It can be found in southern parts of Europe, in the Near East, and North Africa.

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Observing the ants is one of my favorite activities ...

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... so it's no wonder that this ant-infested segment of the post ended up being a bit too long.

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Here you can see a Whitefly. An insect from the Aleyrodidae family. All species from this family feed on the sap of various plants. In the following picture, made of four photographs ...

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... you can take a look at the same insect, photographed in a few more poses while cleaning its head.

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This is the Anaglyptus gibbosus ...

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... a longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae family) that resides on broad-leafed trees in Southern Europe and North Africa. Its larvae live and feed in dry wood, while adults feed on nectar and pollen.

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Here you can see a small spider ...

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... that has built a web in between twigs. I can't tell you which species is this.

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The spider in this triptych is even smaller. Minuscule, really. This is a young, recently hatched version of some species, but here again, I can't tell you what species exactly this is.

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This is some minuscule fruit fly with lovely, colorful eyes. Right now I'm too tired to search for the name of the species.

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Here you can take another look at the Deraeocoris flavilinea, a bug that already appeared, earlier in this post.

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This, darker version of the same species, is partially hidden among the young, partially folded leaves on the top of the twig.

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Here, on another fresh young leaf, you can see a relatively young, not completely developed European earwig (Forficula auricularia)

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On these photographs ...

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... taken at the end of July, the berries are ripe and ready to be picked.

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The raw fruits are slightly toxic, but very tasty and edible when cooked ...

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... so @denisdenis decided to turn them into marmalade.

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While he was picking the berries ...

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... quite patiently ...

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... I was photographing. Here, in this photograph and on
@denisdenis's hand you can see the small nymph of the Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), a species native to Eastern Asia but established in Europe as well.

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The flowers of this plant are also edible. Even tastier than berries. You can make syrup or herbal tea with them. I like to fry them in breadcrumbs or put them in some kind of simple cookies. Great stuff. But this year, I left most of them to turn into fruits, to get plenty of marmalade.

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At one point, while @denisdenis was picking the berries ...

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... I noticed a caterpillar hanging from the branch ...

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... and now, with that little creature ...

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... is time to end this little post.

As always here on HIVE, the photographs are my work - THE END.

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That is an amazing looking tree. Elderberries make the best syrup and are so good for your immune system. There is a whole world of life on that tree, it is obviously very healthy. Loved all the photos xxx

:)

Wow, what a treat! Just feeling the life in every photo. There's so much in this post, actually I got oversaturated - might be easier to break it into a few posts. So we can better enjoy the glory and life-happening of everything you are showing us. :)

True. It's pretty long. It's even easier to publish the thing in a couple of episodes. :) But I didn't wanna lose the feeling of changes on the tree through a single story.

@tipu curate ✌

Beautiful days beautiful fasting marmalade is a couple more jars survived. It should not be opened because it disappears as it is juicy and tasty ;))
Good shots and the tree is very rich in small living world ;))

Ohhh my ohhh my, you never fell short at topics like that. Great publication!

Thanks :) This time the flora and fauna were always at hand, in front of the house, so was easy to monitor what's going on.

An amazing kind of publication, worth everything, honestly, it is my best for the day

Thank you :) Glad you like this elderberry report.

You are welcome

Oh wow, these are amazing pictures! You always got very nice shots.

Thanks :)

A beautiful journey from spring to summer in the fall ... thank you!

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@borjan, you've been given LUV from @sifondeseltz.

Check the LUV in your H-E wallet. (1/1)

As usual you always have amazing shots😍

Thank you

I see pictures of animals like this, it's very amused,,, but all of your pictures are still very nice and clear😊

Adorable clicks❤️

An interesting world of beetles when it gets closer like this ...😊