Three weeks ago I noticed that in the forest nearby (which I visit regularly with my 'new' dog) a lot of trees near the path were cut down....some of them were oaks so I had to come back to search for Purple Hairstreak eggs.
Last Saturday I visited this area with a friend who found the first egg. Some days later I returned to collect more branches for breeding this butterfly species and to search for more eggs.
I also discoverd a lot of empty eggs (which I found out at home after looking at them with the MP-E 65mm lens at 5x zooming). Fingers crossed that the little caterpillars found their way into the oak bud and that they survived!
For weeks, even months I was longing for spring and suddenly it was summer and within a week nature has changed completely. On Thursday evening I checked an area nearby and found out that the majority of the Cuckoo flowers are on their return and instead of Orange-tips I found eggs.
On Friday morning the weather was ideal (no wind at all) photographing butterfly eggs (with the MP-E 65mm) on their larval food plants. On the small fresh buckthorns leaves I found eggs of the Brimstone.
The interesting thing was that three females must passed this buckthorn bush and they all liked the same leaves/places as I found three eggs under the same leaves.
On Thursday 18th January a storm, called Friederike in Germany, 'visited' the Netherlands and caused a lot of chaos and damage. The next day I walked with Wanda through the forest and noticed that a lot of trees had fallen down and that the paths were covered with branches. The majority were pine trees and branches but inbetween I discoverd one oak branch. I took him home and with the help of my magnifier I found one eggs of the Purple Hairstreak. A few days later I found on an other path some oak branches on which I found two eggs. A hand full of branches earned three eggs!
So if there are butterfly lovers who like to 'breed' purple hairstreaks.....the floor (forest paths) is yours!
The First Supper
A lot of fennel was growing in the meadows of the accomodation in France and with a lot I mean hundreds of plants. So it was no surprise that the Swallowtail was a regular visitor and that the females were laying eggs. But when I liked to photograph an egg a few days later the egg was gone; instead I found some fat ants. I watched this proces, called nature, some days and decided to intervene. I took some fennel with yellow eggs and put it outside in the window-sill of the accomodation. Afer a few day, more by accident, I noticed a little dark spot and after I found my glasses I noticed that the dark spot was a hatching egg. With my MP-E 65 mm I could follow the birth but there was too much wind outside to photograph this proces. After the birth this tiny little caterpillar started to eat the egg shell and inbetween he took a break....time for me to make some photos. Ever tried to photograph something with a longer shuttertime on a fennel leaf?
The leaves of fennel are always in motion. After some photos I relooked them in the screen of my camera and could see that the tiny caterpillar started in the choosen (higher) position and after some shots he was that low that I needed to change again the compositon. Fortunately I had enough time that day to repeat that proces again and again and again. I'm happy that I can add this young caterpillar (5:1 magnification) to my personal Swallowtail image collecion.
An egg is an egg
Happy Easter everybody!
In a few weeks, when temperatures finally will rise and oak buds will unfold their first leaf , these two eggs will hatch and a new life cycle of the Purple Hairstreak will begin. I can't wait to follow it.
In the meantime I take care of myself with the AH Moestuintjes (vegetable seeds). Last year it was a big success for the Dutch white species. This year I will also try to tempt the Swallowtail again by sowing fennel; fennel is one of the larval foodplants of the Swallowtail. The fennel will be planted next to the buddlejas (butterfly bush) which are magnets for hungry butterflies.
New Year's Day
All was quiet when I stepped outside early this morning with Wanda; we enjoyed the first sunrise and sunlight of 2016. In the afternoon I visited a forest area nearby where I discovered earlier an oak tree which has been blown down a few weeks ago.
With the help of my reading glasses I inspected the oak buds hoping to find some eggs of the Purple Hairstreak. Just by the time I started wondering if I would find any egg, I found the first one....in total I only found 4 eggs: 3 on an oak bud and 1 on the twig.
The first life of a Holly Blue
The Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) is one of my faithful garden butterflies.....probably because I have a lot of Holly, Purple Loosestrife and Ivy growing. It's one of the first blue species in springtime and one of the last early autumn. While the females are searching for nectar, the males are searching for females in a very busy, almost spastic, flight high off the ground.
Some weeks ago I noticed how a female was inspecting a huge Ivy hedge and a few days later I found (with the help of a magnifier) an egg and followed its secret life:
The chrysalis is hanging upside down under the birch leaf so for the last three photos I had to turn around the leaf. The first two weeks, I used my special macro lens, the MP-E 65 mm; afterward I could use my 'normal' macro lens.
I hope that the chrysalis will survive the winter outside and that I can 'catch' the second life of the Holly Blue next spring!
A little introduction for the non-Dutch people: AH is the abbreviation of Albert Heijn which is one of the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. In February and March this year, for every 15 Euro, I received some vegetable seeds to create my own vegetable garden.
After a lot of caretaking, I now have a lot of tomatoes and all stages of all Dutch white species. Their favourite of all vegetable/cabbage plants is broccoli. They ‘adore’ the leaves and some caterpillars have no problems with devouring all yellow flowers of the broccoli.
A nest of about sixty caterpillars of the Large White I found in their third skin; a few days later I decided to take them inside and feed them on my kitchen table.
After almost a week I found out that none of these caterpillars was infected by the White Butterfly Parasite (a wasp with the name Cotesia glomerata). That is a remarkable fact as normally a big part of the caterpillars is parasitised.
A second notable fact was that the caterpillars did not accept little branches or other dead natural material which I offered them; a big part of the caterpillars pupated in a group on the plastic of the insect box and the other part on the green broccoli leaves. Fortunately one caterpillar transformed into a pupa on a day I did not have to work (see sequence 1).
In the meantime I found an other caterpillar nest of the Large White on broccoli and some new eggs of the Green-veined White and/or Small White but they have to survive outside as I have no more space available on my kitchen table!
In my last blog I wrote that I have enough photo's of the Orange-tip; actually I ment the DUTCH Orange-tip. Arriving in my beloved France, one of the first butterflies which welcomes me was the yellow Provence Orange-tip. Wow.....what a beauty!
Every evening I walked around and searched on yellow flowers (including his larval foodplant) for this butterfly without any success.
Then the day came that I found one resting butterfly in the daytime and while I was photographing this butterfly (with stormy Mistral) I found some little caterpillars, white and orange eggs and the same evening as a big surprise: 3 resting Orange-tips....they maked my day!
The only problem was the Mistral which drives me crazy. With two empty shopping baskets I built a kind of shelter and with some sticks I stabalized the long and tiny plant they were resting on. Despite all this efforts it was a real challenge to make photos without any movements.
As one shopping basked was red and the other light blue, it must have been looked very obvious but it helped to keep the worst gusts of wind away.
When the sun came up across the hill, one by one they were opening the wings and it seemed that I had three femals. Girlpower! But, the way they came, they left, as no more resting yellow Orange-tip was found, till yet.
Soon, a new page with all images of the Provence Orange-tip will be added to this website.
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.