Archive for the Specii rare Category

Insect photography – August-September 2018

Posted in Specii rare on August 14, 2018 by maxpho

Some insects found in the hot month of August…

Mantis religiosa:

mantis 2.jpg

mantis 1.jpg

modelling.jpg

Agrius convolvuli

Agriusconvolvuli.jpg

AgriusconvolvuliHead.jpg

Polygonia c-album:

PolygoniaCalbum2.jpg

PolygoniaCalbum.jpg

Lasiocampa quercus: 1st instar larvae.

Lasiocampa quercus Ist instar.jpg

Lasiocampa quercus L2:

lasiocampaStage2.jpg

 

LicenidSept4.jpg

Colias sp.

ColiasSept.jpg

ColiasBW.jpg

Papilio machaon:

Papiliomachaon1.jpg

PapilioTail.jpg

Evolution stages of Agrius convolvuli:

AgriusStages.jpg

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Finding the Apollo in Bulgaria – July 2018

Posted in Concedii, Evenimente, Specii rare on July 17, 2018 by maxpho

This post is about finding the Mountain Apollo, one of the most beautiful and large butterflies in Europe.

The quest for the fantastic Parnassius apollo butterfly began when I was very young, while receiving a book about insects; on the front cover it stood very proudly the big whitish black-and-red spotted Apollo. This image remained with me for so many years…

My first big disappointment came in 2012 when, together with my wife, I went to the Bicaz Gorges (for the second time in as many years), in my own country, Romania. Despite knowing that most Romanian lepidopterists accepted that P. apollo is considered extinct in the area, my hopes were very high. Of course, no Apollos were seen, despite visiting many of the known sites for this species…

The next Apollo-targeted trip was in 2017, in Croatia, again with my wife, and her brother. There we went first on the Velebit Mountain. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit ahead of time, and we’ve arrived a bit too late at the meeting…Most probably a couple a weeks too late.

A second trip towards the east of Croatia resulted in a bigger disappointment: the wildfires encircled one of the best areas for Apollo in Croatia, so my hopes to meet the species were, again, ruined.

The last trip dedicated to finding the species was in Bulgaria, at Trigrad, also in 2017, in August. Not learning from my mistakes, I’ve decided to check the area despite being very late in the period. Again, no Apollos, but the area was truly peppered with its main food plant, Sedum album. The region is characterized by steep calcareous walls, sub-alpine vegetation in some areas, and a lot of space for butterflies to fly in, with many species of plants around this rather quiet village.  A few interesting butterfly species were observed, and comparing their usual flight periods with the Apollo’s, I’ve concluded that we’ve arrived too late, perhaps with as much as 3 weeks…To be honest, this was already in my mind before we departed towards Trigrad: exchanging a few messages with the renowned lepidopterist Levente Székely, I’ve found out some general areas where the species flies, and also their main flight periods for each location. He told me that basically it was too late to find the Apollo in that year…I did not listen :(. After the big disappointment with Croatia, I needed badly some evidence of the Apollo. But it was not to happen in 2017.

So, this was the story of Apollo for me…until 2018.

Bulgaria July 13-15, 2018.

To begin with, the team: myself, my brother-in-law, Mihai, and my uncle, Leonard. All of which never saw an Apollo butterfly in the wild before…

Day 1:

Our trip started in Bucharest, with the team gathering at about 5:30 in the morning. We drove to the Giurgiu-Ruse bridge over the Danube, and into Bulgaria. By 12:00 we were in Sofia, and by 15:00 at Melnik, a nice little vacation village, situated at around 400 meters above sea level. The area was surrounded by calcareous walls, and the nearby grass fields looked very similar to the Retezat Mountains fields back in Romania.  A lovely location.

pirin melnik.jpg

Our first stop was right next to Melnik, in a small opening where a light shower cooled the air from 34 Celsius to around 24 C in a matter of minutes.

melnik.jpg

And the very first invertebrates: a spider (Lycosa sp., to be determined)…

lycosa.jpg

…and a few individuals of Scarabaeus pius/sacer (yet to be precisely determined):

scarabaeus.jpg

Also, a few butterflies were observed, including one Limenitis reducta female, and the only Polygonia egea observed in the entire trip.

The next few stops were on the road from Gorno Spanchevo to Pirin, a mountainous road recently “refurbished”. Being late in the evening, not much was to be expected. Yet hundreds of Cetonidae were flying around, with as many as 40 on a single plant. A few scarab beetle were also observed.

pirin 3.jpg

The first big “wow” of the trip came from Mihai: a couple (really a couple, a male and a female) of Palpares libelluloides, perhaps the largest species of ant-lions in Europe:

palpares1.jpg

palpares2.jpg

The last stop, an hour before sunset. This time at the side of the road a large grass-rich opening offered no more than 10 individuals of Libelloides macaronius, or owlflies:

ascalaf.jpg

This short trip had to end, since all of us were quite tired, and the next day was to be dedicated to the Apollo.

Day 2:

Again, early in the morning, 6 AM, and we were already making the plan for the day. A short breakfast and up we went. This time, the road to Pirin showed its true colors:

pirin 2.jpg

pirin.jpg

At an altitude of 900 meters and rising, the number of butterflies was increasing rapidly. Here I’ve managed to observe the only Chazara briseis of the trip. Lots of Colias sp. individuals were flying in the morning Sun, as were a few Satyrinae. Melanargia galathea and Brintesia circe were the most common species in the area. No larger butterflies. Yet 😉

hipp.jpg

Further along the road, on the calcareous walls, tens of Sedum album plants were giving us the sign that Parnassius apollo should be…close.

SEDUM.jpg

Our first larger butterfly was…well…we still don’t know for sure. A whitish large shape flying above our car. With the Sun in our eyes, we could not discern the true nature of this back-illuminated butterfly. (We can however assume it was actually our first Apollo observed, since no other species encountered in our trip were similar to it.)

Many of the visited locations were filled with Carduus sp., the main feeding plants of the Apollo:

biotop1.jpg

The next few stops were rather brief, with all of us looking down the valleys or up the cliffs, but with no luck…

I was again a bit disappointed, and thinking “Croatia all over again…”.

LOOKING.jpg

Another stop, and another one and…WOWWWW!!!

Ten Apollos were flying in front of my eyes down a cliff, all on a small patch filled with Carduus. What a sight! “I’ve finally found it!”. Shouting to the other members of the expedition: “Get over here, tons of Apollos here!”.

The next three hours were dedicated to this area alone, with the Apollos flying up and down on a rather steep stony wall. Pretty hard to photograph the species here:

biotop2.jpg

Next stops along the road revealed another 8 Apollos, some observed at an altitude of 1600m. By the time we’ve got back to the first Apollo location, the bulk of the species was already gone. Still, a couple of females were laying their eggs on a few stones close to the larval food plant.

The Gallery presented below is the result of some 2 hours of photography.

apollo 7 si 1.jpg

apollo2.jpg

apollo6.jpg

apollo8.jpg

apollo3.jpg

apollo4.jpg

apollo5.jpg

apollo10.jpg

apollo9.jpg

apollo11.jpg

apollo12.jpg

apollo13.jpg

apollo14.jpg

On the road back to Melnik, we’ve observed another two Apollos, at an altitude of only 900 meters. This was the lowest altitude where the species was observed on the trip.

We went back to the Hotel, and celebrated our success with a couple of beers and a nice big stake. What a memorable day…

Day 3:

Again, early in the morning, and up to the mountains. Same locations were visited, but due to the earlier time of the day, only two Apollos were observed. These were the only individuals of the day, adding to a total of 22 (perhaps 23) Parnassius apollo individuals observed on the entire trip. Not bad, not bad at all 🙂

On our way back from the mountain, stopping again at around 900 meters of altitude, Leonard finds an ant colony, with some rather large individuals. Some were gathering at the entrance of the colony as soon as we were approaching it. Their bite on the camera’s lens cap was proof that these were no ordinary ants, but some rather ferocious ones (Cataglyphis nodus, ID: Leonard):

ants2.jpg

The very last insect, found by Mihai just a few hundred meters from the ant colonies, was also the giant of the trip: Saga natoliae. What a magnificent bush-cricket.

saga1.jpg

saga2.jpg

saga3.jpg

saga comparatie.jpg

The way back home was long, delayed for a couple of hours by a terrible accident (in which a truck smashed a small car in a wall…not a nice sight to remember), but it made all the drivers a bit more careful on the sinuous road to Sofia…

The long way back was rather quiet, with only a few cars passing from Bulgaria to Romania. It was a relaxing returning trip from a very tiring expedition.

Must get back there again…

orhidee.jpg

P.S.

-This post is dedicated to my wife, who couldn’t come with me on the trip. She stood back home, preparing the next generation of astro/ento/photo enthusiasts ;).

-I must thank Levente Székely for all the information regarding the general locations and flight periods of Parnassius apollo in Bulgaria. Without these details, I could still be only dreaming of one day meeting the superb Mountain Apollo. Thank you!

Insect photography – July 2018

Posted in Concedii, Specii rare on July 3, 2018 by maxpho

A few shots of some insects from different parts of Romania. All are acquired in July.

Melitaea dydima, female, ex larvae:

Melitaea1.jpg

Marumba quercus larvae, eating its eggshell:

marumba 2.jpg

marumba1.jpg

Deilephila porcellus, ex larvae:

porcellus.jpg

Apatura metis, near Giurgiu:

apatura metis1.jpg

apatura metis2.jpg

 

Dolbina elegans:

dolbina 1.jpg

dolbina 2.jpg

dolbina 3.jpg

dolbina 4.jpg

dolbina 5.jpg

dolbina 6.jpg

Hyles euphorbiae pupae:

HyleseuphorbiaePupae.jpg

hyles 1.jpg

hyles 2.jpg

hyles 3.jpg

hyles 4.jpg

Ledra aurita (Fam. Cicadellidae):

aurita.jpg

Old shots…

Posted in Canaraua Fetii, Comana, Concedii, Fotografii vechi, Plimbari, Specii rare, Uncategorized on July 1, 2018 by maxpho

Some old shots of…insects, reptiles…and others.

From 2013/15, reprocessed in 2018.

araschnia2015.jpg

cfetii 30 mai 2015.jpg

26 iunie 2015 lucieni.jpg

cfetii 30 mai 2015b.jpg

cheiledoborgei15aug2015.jpg

vadu 15 august 2015.jpg

valealuidavid28iulie2015b.jpg

valealuidavid28iulie2015.jpg

water snake 2.jpg

underwater 1.jpg

water snake 4.jpg

hesperizi.jpg

inachis 1.jpg

urticae 2.jpg

meli 3.jpg

 

meli 1.jpg

fullo 1.jpg

melitaea 2009Mai17.jpg

melitaea 2009Mai17b.jpg

empusa.jpg

mantis 1.jpg

rhamni pereche.jpg

tettigonia.jpg

crab spider 2.jpg

crabspider.jpg

mantis 3.jpg

saritor1.jpg

licenid3.jpg

licenid 4.jpg

licenid 6.jpg

licenid 7.jpg

licenizi.jpg

papilio3.jpg

papilio2.jpg

mosquito 1.jpg

Insect photography – June 2018

Posted in Concedii, Specii rare on June 11, 2018 by maxpho

A few shots of some insects from different parts of Romania.

Larvae and eggs of Zerynthia cerisy ferdinandi. The eggs are about 0.7 mm in diameter.

larva cerisy 2.jpg

Omida si oua 1.jpg

Oua cerisy.jpg

a.jpg

papilio.jpg

rapitor.jpg

IMG_3945.jpg

hip 2.jpg

hipp1.jpg

araschnia.jpg

zygaena.jpg

marumba.jpg

noct.jpg

hyles.jpg

phalera.jpg

polyxena.jpg

arr 2.jpg

arr 1.jpg

fulminea.jpg

arion.jpg

CERURA.jpg

cerura 2.jpg

ceruramare3.jpg

ceruralegs.jpg

ceruramic1.jpg

ceruramic2.jpg

purpuri.jpg

antiopa.jpg

antiopa2.jpg

DIDYMA.jpg

didyma2.jpg

dispar.jpg

rhamni.jpg

pieris.jpg

limenitis2.jpg

limenitis1.jpg

proserpinus1.jpg

proserpinus2.jpg

ceramb1.jpg

ceramb2.jpg

lic 3.jpg

lic 1.jpg

lic 2.jpg

daphnis 2.jpg

daphnis.jpg

hespe 1.jpg

fullo 4.jpg

fullo 2.jpg

fullo 3.jpg

fullo 5.jpg

fullo 6.jpg

daspius1.jpg

daspius2.jpg

brintesia.jpg

zygaena3.jpg

sessyid.jpg

edusa 2.jpg

edusa1.jpg

zygaena2.jpg

zygaena1.jpg

plebeja 2.jpg

micro.jpg

plebeja1.jpg

orni 2.jpg

orni 1.jpg

fly.jpg

cicada2.jpg

cicada1.jpg

leul.jpg

car.jpg

hyles euphorbiae3.jpg

zygaena 4.jpg

plebaja2.jpg

lib1.jpg

machaon1.jpg

zygaena5.jpg

risamegarisa.jpg

risa1.jpg

risa 2.jpg

larva2.jpg

scopoli.jpg

larva.jpg

licaena.jpg

hyless.jpg

melitheacrys.jpg

melicy1.jpg

melitheacrys2.jpg

meliwing.jpg

cerisy.jpg

Some moth observing – June 7, 2018

Posted in Plimbari, Specii rare on June 8, 2018 by maxpho

While observing moths last night using a couple of mixed light bulbs, I’ve also dedicated a bit of time photographing some species.

First, despite not being moths, couple of damselflies:

Agrionid 1.jpg

Agrionid 2.jpg

An old individual of Cossus cossus:

cossus cossus.jpg

Cydalima perspectalis, an invasive species in Europe:

Cydalima perspectalis 1.jpg

Cydalima perspectalis 2.jpg

A female Odonestis pruni:

Odonestis pruni.jpg

Phragmatobia fuliginosa:

phragmatobia fuliginosa.jpg

Thyatira batis:

thyatira batis 2.jpg

thyatira batis.jpg

Zeuzera pyrina:

zeuzera pyrina.jpg

 

A few butterflies and moths – June 3, 2018

Posted in Plimbari, Specii rare on June 3, 2018 by maxpho

Just 3 hours in the woods today, searching for species, mostly butterflies…

These few shots present some of the more active butterflies observed today. There is also one moth shown, but its story is a bit different, being captured the night before while observing moths with an UV bulb. A few individuals from the species were afterwords collected and the next day they were released in the same location; this allowed for some daytime shots since they do not fly during the day.

Euphydryas maturna:

Euphydryas maturna 1.jpg

Euphydryas maturna 2.jpg

Lopinga achine:

Lopinga achine.jpg

Coenonympha arcania:

Coenonympha arcania.jpg

Deilephila elpenor:

Deilephila elpenor 5.jpg

Deilephila elpenor 4.jpg

Deilephila elpenor 2.jpg

Deilephila elpenor 3.jpg

Deilephila elpenor 1.jpg