The distribution map of the hoverfly Eristalis pertinax may be telling a story about failed clean water regulations:

“Eristalis pertinax is a European hoverfly. Like Eristalis tenax, the larva of E. pertinax is a rat-tailed maggot and lives in drainage ditches, pools around manure piles, sewage, and similar places containing water badly polluted with organic matter.”

Caveats: sampling bias, and unknown distribution prior to modern waterways pollution.

Wow, interactive 3D scans of animals and plants:

The paper: "Bio-photogrammetry: digitally archiving coloured 3D morphology data of creatures and associated challenges" by Yuichi Kano

See for example this one of an Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia (click and drag with the mouse)

HT: Rainmaker1973

My favourite grasshopper photo moment: moulting sequence. 

An unusual observation in the wild: a pale-looking large grasshopper nymph, immobile, that started moulting with undulating, rhythmic motions. The head cuticle slowly detached as the new body propelled forward–giving it the appearance of having two heads. Half way through, a yellowjacket wasp attacked!

The wasp munched on the soft, unexpanded wings while the grasshopper helplessly continued its slow moulting procedure into its adult form. Left alive but not unscathed.

Egyptian bird grasshoper, Anacridium aegyptium, on a lemon tree in Hvar island, Croatia

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Ever looked at a grasshopper up close?

When approached, grasshoppers either jump and fly away–if I'm too fast–or remain very still, as if whispering a mantra "I am not here, you haven't seen me". Except this only works when the camouflage pattern matches their background. Not the case here!

Chorthippus apricarius

Not a wasp, but beautiful nonetheless! Memoirs of a summer by the sea.

Scarce swallowtail butterfly (Iphiclides podalirius) on a saltwater-sprinkled bush, Croatia.

On dead ants ... their mandibles and bodies can endure a lot. Here is another unidentified dead ant, mandibles clasping onto the leg of a masked bee (who knew ants and bees battle?). The dead ant served as a natural marker for this one particular bee, which I was able to recognize over the course of multiple days on the same mint flowers.

Hylaeus modestus (a masked bee) plus unknown ant, on mint flowers

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And differences in size are also the norm. Not only among ant castes of the same species, but particularly among different species! Here we see a desert ant (a relatively large ant for Europe) carrying a tiny dead one still clasping its mandibles on its antenna, marching on unfazed at full speed among the pebbles of a Croatian beach.

Cataglyphis nodus (large ant) and an unidentified tiny dead ant attached to its right antenna.

Differences between males and females are the norm among ants. This male ant is tiny at 3 millimetres long. For the longest time, I had not the foggiest idea what this was other than a wasp-like animal. Thanks to the iNaturalist community it was identified.

Male ants are a rare sight, emerging only at the right season and only for a brief period of time. It is said that most die shortly after mating.

Stigmatomma sp, possibly S. denticulatum.

Have you ever seen ants mating? 

Right on the windshield of our car, this past summer. The male is indeed tiny. Crummy photo, was as spontaneous and unplanned as it gets: at a traffic light!

Lasius sp. (likely but unconfirmed) There are more photos at the entry.

Want to study bumblebees in the Arctic? The impact of global warming on pollinators? There's an open PhD position in Richard Gill's lab at in London

The PhD ad is a PDF:

"Our knowledge of how interaction networks, such as plant-pollinator relationships, are being
affected by climate change remains in its infancy. This is primarily due to us having a limited
understanding of the underlying mechanisms determining how plant and pollinator
populations respond to climatic variation."

"This project will study an Arctic plant-pollinator community located in Lapland (Sweden) by
taking advantage of a unique phenology transect spanning an elevational gradient."

@PLOSBiology And notice the call out to the project "Bees concentrating nectar" and its associated paper by Zach Portman, John Ascher & Daniel Cariveau in 2021, titled "Nectar concentrating behavior by bees (Hymenoptera: Anthophila)"

Zach Portman and John Ascher are experts specialised in who have identified hundreds of among my observations. Thanks so much!

An example of a concentrating nectar: Nomioides minutissimus, a ~3 to 4 mm long solitary bee observed on a beach in Catalonia.

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Nice highlight @PLOSBiology of the role and importance of organism identifiers at . That is, the experts putting in the time to figure out the taxon of the animal in my and your photos.

My huge appreciation to these experts, particularly in , for they often take the time to educate me and point me to resources for identifying and more.

PLOS Biology  
The number of observations submitted to the #CitizenScience platform @inaturalist is outpacing the rate at which the organisms can be identified. @...

No need to walk far to stumble upon something beautiful. 

Here is a carrot wasp, Gasteruption sp., seen this past July 2022 in Cambridge, UK. The adults drink nectar from flowers of the carrot family–hence the name–and contribute to pollinating them.

Its larval progeny develops as an unwelcomed boarder–a , really, even a predator–in the nest cells of native bees and wasp larvae, consuming the food intended for the host, and likely have started by now. Will only pupate into next Spring.

There's even an #iNaturalist project collecting out of season bees

... which includes this observation of an Andrena cineraria mining from the Cambridge Botanic gardens

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That's a lot of bees and wasps for November.

Yes, some of these, like the cellophane bees (Colletes), have a late flight season, and the garden bumblebees (Bombus terrestis) seem indestructible and adapted to human-altered environments, but the mining bees (Andrena) and sweat bees (Lasioglossum) ought to have been long gone for this season, rather than easy to spot on a leisure walk across the Cambridge Botanic Garden, UK.

Torymus sp. chalcid wasp today at the Cambridge Botanic Garden, UK. Despite the large ovipositor, this tiny metallic green parasitoid wasp does not present any danger to its untimely perch, AKA my finger.

Aphid eater hoverfly, Eupeodes sp., looking stunning on a rosemary flower just yesterday, November 4th. Pembroke college, Cambridge, UK.

As in most flies, the eyes seem bigger than the head itself, and often touch each other dorsally. Large eyes alongside tiny antennae is a great distinguishing feature to tell flies apart from wasps. Often, as is the case here, flies present a color pattern similar to that of a wasp: Batesian mimicry which offers protection against predation.

Amusingly, a cook passed by to collect a bunch for “formal hall”, that is, dinner.

Bumblebees, on the other hand, won’t hesitate to rob nectar—a robbery because, by not entering a flower the expected way, they won’t contribute to pollination.

Being big and bulky and strong has disdvantages, but also advantages: bumblebees can bite plants, leaves in particular, to induce flowering. Quite the superpower!

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