Tag Archives: insects

A garden tiger moth

This is a moth with two faces. At rest, his cream and dark brown forewings are zebra-patterned, very modern, very distinctive. Underneath are hidden his bright orange hindwings. I spotted him first resting on a wall, later collapsed upside-down on the terrace. Beautiful, if dead.

The garden tiger moth is heavy-bodied and hairy, quite easy-to-spot although they do come in a large variety of colour combinations. The colour is designed to ward-off predators, as the moth’s body fluids are poisonous due to its diet of plants such as potato and laburnum which give off toxic substances. If a threat is perceived, the moth opens its wings to show off its coat of many colours.

5 to remember
una polilla – a moth
las alas anteriores – the forewings
las alas posteriores – the hindwings
estampado de cebra – zebra-patterned
al revés – upside-down


Collins Butterfly Guide [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A garden tiger moth in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley #moths http://wp.me/p3dYp6-26K

A big fellow, or not

I think this is the biggest grasshopper I have seen. He quickly assumed the name ‘a big fellow’ but after some gentle research I think he is a) definitely a grasshopper, not a cricket, because his legs are held lower, and b) he is a she, given the presence of an ovipositor [the organ at the end of the abdomen which is used for laying eggs]. I would be hopeless as a biologist, at first glance I thought the ovipositor was a broken leg.Read about some of the other grasshoppers and crickets in the hidden valley:-
Black grasshopper
The three grasshoppers
Grasshoppers and butterflies
A September visitor
Now that’s what I call green

5 to remember
creo que ésto es – I think this is
el abdomen – the abdomen
un biólogo – a biologist
a primera vista – at first glance
una pierna rota – a broken leg

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A big, gentle fellow #Insects in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24C

Food for ants

Nature is a place of survival. There is no place for squeamishness, sentiment or emotion. The annual cycle is driven by food and reproduction, and both are involved in this little story. Our terraces are home to numerous ants which do a sterling job of clearing up and keeping things tidy. They are constantly working, perpetually seeking and following and carrying and dragging. But this meal turned out to be too big to fit into the hole to their nest. So, a little dissection was needed. I don’t know how the baby lizard died, but I admire the tenacity of the ants.

5 to remember
el sobreviviente – the survival
el escrúpulo – the squeamishness
el sentimiento – the sentiment
la emocion – the emotion
la reproducción – the reproduction

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
It’s lunchtime: food for ants #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-24h

Galls in springtime

As summer approaches, it is almost time for gall wasps to lay new eggs. But last year’s galls are still around. I’ve written about galls before, in the autumn before and after hatching. Galls are tough, they hang onto trees through winter storms, or fall and bounce. These are galls which have over-wintered, day-by-day being hidden by the fresh green growth on the holm oak trees. They are mysterious objects, like small packages containing a secret. Which of course they did. There are about 1300 different species of gall wasp, and 70% choose a type of oak tree as host plant. The holes may be either exits, or attack holes by predators such as woodpeckers.

Read more about oak galls in the #secretvalley, before and after hatching.

5 to remember
resistente – tough/resilient
antes y después de – before and after
día a día – day-by-day
misterioso/a – mysterious
un secreto – a secret

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Oak galls survive the winter in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1U3

A September visitor

This, I think is a grasshopper, not a cicada. Why? Because he has short antennae. grasshopperHe lives on the ground and avoids his foes by leaping using his powerful hind legs. He is a plant-eater and generally stays out of harm’s way because of his camouflage colouration. This one, though, did not blend in with the terrace tiles.

5 to remember
creo – I think
una antenna – an antennae
poderoso/a – powerful
el camuflaje – the camouflage
la coloración – the colouration

Pollen happy

The terrace is alive to the bee-buzz. We’re watching these bees happily foraging around flowers, searching for food and unknowingly carrying pollen around and germinating plants. They pass on the male gametes, the sperm cells, onto the waiting stamens and eso es, it is as simple as that. Fertilization. No dating, or courting, as my mother would have said. Just a bit of buzzing around, sometimes it happens on the same flower, which seems a bit incestuous.

5 to remember
el polen – the pollen
la polinización – the pollination
sin saberlo – unknowingly
eso es– that’s it
incestuoso/a – incestuous

A Mammoth Wasp

Now you have to bear with me on this one.

This is a wasp, but not an ordinary wasp. It is not the least bit interested in humans, a gentle giant and solitary by nature. This is a female, about 4.5cm long with a yellow head. The male is slightly smaller with a black head. It actually looks like a larger, longer bumble bee. It is fluffy, and glossy black with two yellow bands across its back. It is the Mammoth Wasp, Scolia Flavifrons. It feeds on flower nectar and the larvae of Rhinoceros Beetles, which is good with me. Owing to its latter chosen food stuff, it is most often found around rotten tree stumps.

This one sat on the wall beside the pool, without moving, for an hour, before flying into the water, paddling around, then crawling out again. We haven’t seen her since, presumably she is in a rotten tree stump somewhere.

5 to remember
gigantesco/a – mammoth
las larvas – the larvae
un gigante gentil – a gentle giant
un abejorro – a bumble bee
el néctar – the nectar