Tag Archives: Germany

SILKY PREDATOR

<<Scream!!!>>

Chances are someone spotted a spider! Surely one of the most hated creatures in the world (top 10), spiders are almost always misunderstood. There is no shortage of scary stories about these interesting creatures.

The largest part of the Arachnid family, spiders are ‘those’ eight-legged creatures that spin silky webs used to capture prey. The silk from which their webs are made is said to be the strongest material in the world. According to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Spider silk has a tensile strength that’s five times more than that of steel! Imagine that!

The photo of a garden orbweaver in its web, captured in summer
A Spider (A Garden Orbweaver perharps) in its web

ENVIRONMENTALISTS

– Spiders help the environment by eliminating volumes of insects that would otherwise be around in your garden and other locations.

– When a Spider is going to make a new web, they roll the old one up first into a ball. Many species will eat it. They extract juices from their body onto it so that it will be liquefied.

ADDITIONAL FUN FACTS

– Spiders do not have muscles in their limbs. They move around by hydraulic power. When a Spider is moving there are always 4 legs on the surface and 4 off of it.

– The blood of the spider is light blue in color

– The venom spiders produce is to enable them liquefy their food (prey), as they are only able to take food in liquid form.

Very few people die or become seriously ill from Spider bites. There is just usually so much media coverage when these occur that creates the frenzy that exists. Although spiders are widely feared, only a few species are dangerous to people. Spiders will only bite humans in self-defense, and few produce worse effects than a mosquito bite or bee-sting. Spiders would rather flee when they encounter humans and probably only bite when trapped (in self defense 😉 )

So you don’t really have to scream and run out of a room/look for salvation the next time you see a spider “hanging” around. It’s just minding its “business”.

The photo of a spider with its housefly prey in a web
A Spider with a housefly prey

REFERENCES:

http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center/how-do-we-know/spider-silk

http://www.spidersworlds.com/facts-about-spiders/

http://www.livescience.com/22122-types-of-spiders.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider

Photo: © Gideon Davis 2014. Remshalden, Germany

AFRICAN DAISY

full bloom african daisy
The African Daisy in full Bloom

Also referred to as Goddess Of The Sun, The African daisy flowers reflect the beauty and the burning color of the sun. They are herbaceous annuals which close at night, in the shade, and during cloud cover, and Bloom between April and August.

Photo: Remshalden, Germany. June, 2014
Flower Facts: http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/wildflowers/african-daisy

Identity In Name

The Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) is one of at least four blue damselflies with black markings that seem similar at a quick glance. The others include the:

– Common Blue Damselfly (male has a domed mushroom-like black mark on abdominal segment two)
– Azure Blue Damselfly (fine “U” shaped mark which has no stem on abdominal segment two)
– Variable Damselfly (wine glass or “U” shaped mark on abdominal segment two with a stem at its base)

A Male Southern Damselfly (Mercury Bluet) spotted in Spring on the leaf of a plant
A male Southern Damselfly

The second abdominal segments bear the most distinctive markings that help in the identification of the different species.

Like its specific name suggests, the Southern Damselfly spots a distinctive marking on the second abdominal segment that resembles the astrological symbol for the planet Mercury (☿). It’s alternative name “Mercury Bluet” is therefore more fitting and descriptive.

Other identification characteristics include:

– Elliptical spots behind the eyes
– Blue bar between the eyes
– Abdominal segment 9 is 80% black

The Southern Damselfly bearing identification features
A close-up shot of the Mercury Bluet showing part of the mercury symbol on the second abdominal segment as well as other distinctive features

To the untrained eye, these species all appear the same. But it can be even more fun looking out for these unique markings that give the different species the identification they possess

POLLEN DRAPE

A Bumblebee in the full bloom head of a Common Dandelion
A Bumblebee covered in pollen in the full bloom head of the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelions flower at a time of the year when few other sources of nectar and pollen are available in many gardens, providing native pollinators with a ready source of early pollen for colony-building. With full-bloomed flower heads already in early spring, they are available to pollinators including the bumblebee just as they emerge from their winter nests… And these pollinators, well they don’t take the provision for granted 🙂

Armor of Gold

An adult male Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
An adult male Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

Nostalgic of my entomology roots, I researched some interesting facts about the species.

Identification:
39-48mm in length, the brown colour and the four spots at the nodus of the wings make them unmistakable.

Sexes can be differentiated by closely observing the structure of the appendages at the end of the abdomen. The upper appendages are more ‘separated’ in the females than in the males.

Habitat & Behavior:
Found mainly by ponds, vernal pools, and slow flowing rivers between the months of May and September, the male is considered to be highly aggressive and will defend a given territory from incursions from other males of the species. The male is known to form preferences for prominent perches and will often return to the same perches around the margins of pools and ponds whilst it patrols for intruders.

Photo taken in early May 2014, Remshalden, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Resource:
1,http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/f/902/t/106254.aspx
2, http://www.british-dragonflies.org.uk/species/four-spotted-chaser
3, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-spotted_Chaser