Posts tagged with ‘advent calendar’

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 24: Pyrops candelaria

I don’t make much attempt to theme these advent calendars around Christmas, but for the last entry I have, in the past, tried to get seasonal: the bird was a robin, the painting was a nativity. But Christmas isn’t the insectiest time of the year up here in northern Europe, and I don’t have a […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 23: Adela reaumurella

This is Adela reaumurella. Google suggests a couple of common names have been attached to it — Green Longhorn and Metallic Longhorn — but neither seems to have much traction. And actually, the fact that so many British moths have established English names is the exception rather than the rule; if you’re interested in insects, you’re going to have to […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 22: Libelloides coccajus

I’ve left this rather late today, with family christmas stuff to do and the Strictly Come Dancing final to watch, so here’s a quick one. This is Libelloides coccajus, and it’s the most startling insect I’ve seen in recent years. Startling because when I saw it in Provence I just had no idea what it was. […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 21: Giant Peacock Moth

This is a Giant Peacock Moth, Saturnia pyri: It’s Europe’s largest moth, but not quite as large as the photo makes it look; that is a child’s foot. But still, it can have a 6″ wingspan, which is pretty good. I chose that picture because I think there’s something weirdly charming about the microgenre of […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 20: honeybee

“we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax; thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light.” » ‘Honeybee Nest Removal – 07’ is © Max Westby and used under a CC by-nc-sa licence.

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 19: Death-watch Beetle

Imagine, it is the early nineteenth century, on a still summer night in a creaky timber-framed cottage in the English countryside; and you are awake, sitting up with a sick child and a single flickering tallow candle for light. And quiet but persistent, from somewhere in the darkness, you hear a noise. It’s not surprising it might […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 18: Mountain Katydid

This is an Australian species called the Mountain Katydid, Acripeza reticulata: Male on the left, female on the right. Obviously, they’re well camouflaged (the female is easily mistaken for a kangaroo turd, apparently); and they have funky-looking stripy legs. But that’s not why I picked them. No; it’s because when you get too close to them, […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 17: magnetic termites

‘Magnetic termites’ sounds like a very disappointing toy to find at the bottom of your Christmas stocking. But no, they are a real species, Amitermes meridionalis. I don’t have a picture of the insect itself, but I assume it’s just your standard termite: a pallid little wriggly thing. Or thousands and thousands of pallid little wriggly […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 16: Elephant Hawkmoth

Probably the single most glamorous moth in the UK, this is an elephant hawkmoth: What a stunner. It’s like a furry stick of rock. And as well as one of the most amazing moths in the UK, it’s also about the most amazing caterpillar: It’s a monster! Every year I hope to find one of these […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects day 15: Aspidomorpha miliaris

I found Udo Schmidt’s amazing beetles photographs on Flickr and was like a kid in a candy store. I was very tempted by this longhorn beetle which looks like it was upholstered for a 1970s bachelor pad, or this one which is clearly a piece of military hardware. Or this scarab, apparently on his way […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 14: Beautiful Demoiselle

This is the Beautiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo, a kind of damselfly. It is apparently found in Britain, although I’ve only seen its less spectacular but still gorgeous relative, the Banded Demoiselle. So shiny. » ‘Blue Damselfly’ is © Annamaria Kaiser and used under a CC by-nc-sa licence. ‘Bosbeekjuffer – Beautiful Demoiselle male 2’ is © Arend Vermazeren […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 13: cochineal

Cochineal is Dactylopius coccus, a rather undistinguished looking scale insect that lives on the prickly pear cactus. But when you squish it, it does this: Which means you can do this with it: When it’s a dye, we call it carmine. Apparently it’s not used much for fabrics or paints anymore, since the invention of artificial […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 12: velvet ant

Perhaps velvet ants are one of those things that seem especially cool because we don’t have them around here.* But come on, it’s a black and red furry ant! Surely that’s cool by anyone’s standards. This one is Dasymutilla coccineohirta, apparently. They’re not actually ants, they’re wingless wasps, and they have such a painful sting that their […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 11: Uropyia meticulodina

I know I’ve already done a couple of mimicry posts, but I just never get tired of them (check out this beetle pretending to be a fly!). And this one, which I discovered while googling for pictures of something else, is just wonderful. It is, obviously, a moth. And there are lots of moths that […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 10: cicadas

You might have to turn the volume up on your computer to get a sense of just how loud these things can be in real life. This is cicadas with a bit of spider monkey in the background: This time with howler monkeys: And with a local guide: I always thought they made the noise […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 9: Tarsoctenus papias

Just a pretty butterfly today. I don’t know anything about Tarsoctenus papias, really, except that it’s a species of skipper from south America. I found it while browsing the amazingly, intimidatingly comprehensive website Butterflies of America. The photo is © Kim Garwood.

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 8: Death’s-head Hawkmoth

This is the Death’s-head Hawkmoth, Acherontia atropos. So called because marking on the thorax looks a bit like a skull. It features on the poster for Silence of the Lambs although, disappointingly, they edited the image to make the skull much more obvious. The resemblance is (presumably) pure coincidence, but along with the large size, […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 7: Urocerus gigas & Rhyssa persuasoria

This magnificent, scary-looking but completely harmless insect is a female Greater Horntail or Giant Woodwasp, Urocerus gigas: The woodwasps are a groups of sawflies (members of the hymenoptera along with bees, wasps and ants) which lay their eggs in wood. You can actually see the ovipositor inserted into the wood, as well as the more dramatic […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects day 6: a leafhopper

The last couple of insects have been interesting rather than beautiful, so here’s a real stunner. I don’t actually have a species name for this one — I just found it on Flickr by searching for bugs — but it was photographed by the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory, and their description of the photo reads: ‘Leafhopper, Sharpshooter Collected […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects day 5: Poecilobothrus nobilitatus

It’s tempting to just concentrate on the showiest insect families — butterflies, moths, beetles, dragonflies — at the expense of the incredible variety of flies, bugs, fleas, ants, termites, cockroaches and so on. But let’s have at least one fly. There are lots of things with ‘fly’ in the name — butterfly, caddisfly, scorpionfly and so on — but the true flies, the […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 4: pygmy mole cricket

This is a pygmy mole cricket: It’s just 6mm long, which is one reason why it looks a bit weird, even for a grasshoppery-crickety thingy. I heard of these South African critters for the first time today via some brand new science, as reported in Ed Yong’s Not Exactly Rocket Science blog, and in Jerry […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 3: Lunar Hornet Moth

I can’t believe I’m already falling behind. I’m afraid I just forgot yesterday, so I’ve set myself a daily reminder. Anyway, a quick one, this is a species I’ve wanted to see for years (still waiting!), the Lunar Hornet Moth, Sesia bembeciformis: And yes, it is a moth. Looking closely, it’s too furry for a […]

Harry’s advent calendar of insects, day 2: Rose Chafer

In My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell’s book about life as a nature-obsessed child in Corfu, there’s a description of the ‘rose-beetle man': a dumb peddler of, among other things, metallic green beetles on lengths of thread, sold for small children to play with, buzzing around in circles like little aeroplanes. This is the […]