IN THE YELLOW WONDERLAND - Part Two

in Fascinating Insects2 months ago (edited)

The Spartium junceum saga continues. :D Some branches of these colorful shrubs are covered with aphids ...

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... and here you can see one of their protectors ... an ant. This could be the Formica sanguinea worker, but I'm not sure with many similar looking ant species around.

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A multitude of Aphis cytisorum aphids is feeding on plant's sap ...

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... and quite a few interesting insect species are here to take advantage of this invasion. Ants are enjoying the sweet, nutrient liquid called honeydew, excreted by aphids ... and they aren't just waiting for honeydew to appear, but actively massage the aphids with their antennae to control the process. The parallel with human shepherding and milking is very clear & obvious.

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Because of the importance of honeydew in their diet, these ants are protecting the aphids ...

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... and the Hippodamia variegata lady beetle on this photograph ...

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... is one of the predatory species from which the aphids need to be protected.

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Here you can see a pair of these lady beetles mating ... the female will lay the eggs here among the aphids ... to ensure an abundance of food to the larvae.

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It looked that this Hippodamia variegata is just resting on the flower ...

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... but then, when the insect started to move, I saw that it was trapped by some slimy thing ...

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... I don't know what exactly happened here. The lady beetle on the following photograph ...

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... the Harmonia axyridis, is an invasive species that came from eastern Asia not so long ago, in the 90' ... and this one is also enjoying the abundance of aphids ...

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... on the Spanish broom.

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Coccinella septempunctata is the most common European lady beetle, with the "classic" lady beetle look from many children books and cartoons ... here you can see an adult insect among the aphids ... and on the following photograph ...

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... is the larva of this species.

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While taking these photographs ... at the end of July 2020 ... I saw some aphid eaters that I never noticed before ...

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This is the larva of the Episyrphus balteatus hover fly ... and you can see it here with an aphid in its mouth.

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It's very hard to notice when resting still on the twig of this plant.

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In the lower left corner of this photograph you can see a fragment of the Episyrphus balteatus larva blurred in the background ... and in the center of the shot, the main protagonist of this picture ... a very different larva, of some green lacewing species ... probably the very common Chrysoperla carnea.

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This little predator with big mandibles looks pretty scary in macro view.

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Here you can see the adult green lacewing ... on the nearby meadow.

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Just like the lady beetles that you saw before in this post, lacewings are also trying to lay their eggs in places with rich sources of food for the future larvae.

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Each egg is situated at the end of a relatively long, thin stalk, out of reach for many small predators. Maybe you already noticed a small orange thing among these eggs in the middle of an aphid colony ...

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... this is another small aphid hunter ...

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... larva of the midge Aphidoletes aphidimyza. Midges are small flies with long legs, they look a bit like mosquitoes.

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This was the first time I saw this minuscule larva, actually smaller than aphids, in action ...

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... only through the macro lens I was able to follow what's going on ...

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... the larva was producing a silky thread to help here move among the lacewing's eggs.

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Here you can see another ant species that shepherds these aphids ...

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... the very small, but very aggressive Crematogaster scutellaris ... and on the following photograph ...

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... you can take a look at another predator ...

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... but this time I can't tell you the species ... it's clearly a larva ... but how the adult insect looks - I have no idea.

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The Aphis cytisorum aphids can be considered pests on the Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) but their presence on the plants sustains a nice variety of insects ... and with many plants in bloom, you can always find a rich, colorful biodiversity here along the Adriatic coast.

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Not all insects are here for the aphids ... this small fly, I don't know the species ... is feeding on pollen and nectar.

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This beetle ... I wasn't able to find out the species ... is also feeding on pollen.

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Many flies are active around the flowers. This is the Anthomyia procellaris.

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I don't know the name of this, considerably smaller species.

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This colorful fly from the Tachinidae family filled with cool looking species ...

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... is the Gymnosoma rotundatum.

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Some flies end up caught by the spiders ... this Thomisus onustus crab spider has caught a green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) ... and now is feeding surrounded by aphids ...

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... and that's it for the second part of this yellow trilogy ... as always in these posts on HIVE, the photographs are my work ... TO BE CONTINUED ...

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some collection of photos of small animals that are very beautiful when seen, really like it .... extraordinarily beautiful.

अत्यधिक खूबसूरत फोटोज़ 👌👌👌

धन्यवाद :)