A letter from the Netherlands.

 

Contribution by Veronica de Voogt.

“As the lockdown fell upon us by March 27, my husband and I decided to use our home bound time to learn more about photography and spend ‘some’ time taking pictures of the flowers and other living creatures in our garden. The  ‘taking pictures’ is only part of the story, because each picture needs to be photoshopped  to produce a viewable image. So we spent a lot of time both outdoors and indoors to make our photographs and by doing so, we also learned a lot about our garden and especially about the insects.

Zizeeria knysna knysna

We realized how fortunate we were to be able to walk in our garden and breathe fresh air… how many people on Earth did not have that opportunity and were (or still are!) not able to go outside at all! So we decided to make sort of a daily mail about our garden safaris illustrated with some photographs and e-mailed it to our friends all over the world. It was all meant to give a positive twist to those days we all were in a situation we felt unfamiliar and unhappy with.
We spent a lot of time browsing the internet to learn about the insects we managed to catch on camera and once you start discovering and studying the amazing world of all creatures great and small, one realizes everything is there for a reason and every little creature has its special function in the very complex ecosystems!

Tarucus thespis

So we also learned we saw pollen collecting bees and nectar collecting bees… by the way they operate at different rush-hours.. the pollen collecting bees are early in the morning, the nectar collectors will be seen later, when it is warmer and the nectar may be more fluid ( clever bees!).
We spent hours to try to get a good photograph of the paper wasps fanning their brood… not easy to catch the colorful reflection of the light on their wings, have the right depth of feed and the right shutter speed to tell the full story! I spent hours observing them and found out a lot more on their whereabouts and social structure. Still got no clue nor answer why only some wasps have amber colored eyes ….

Cacyreus marshalli

Every day there will be something new to learn, as long as you open up for it and are willing to see .We all love the beauty of the flowers, we all get exited by the beautiful butterflies… why do we all want to kill the worms ? They are butterflies ! Did you know the little blues? … a huge family of tiny (wingspan only approximately 2 cm!) more or less bluish butterflies..they all vary slightly in color,  some more bluish, some more brownish and all with a different ‘fingerprint’ on the downside of the wings outline, some have little tails on their wings and a different flying pattern.
Most of the time they are frolicking around and only sitting down for a split second between the tall grass or on their favorite flower, but definitely always on the most impossible spot to be caught on camera nicely!

Cacyreus lingeus

You have all heard of the Brenton Blue, that famous little one that was wiped out by the fires in 2017. Inspired by the lepidopterist David Edge we learned about their life-cycle and the special species of ants they needed to take care of and nurse of the butterflies eggs,  and the Indigofera plants where we had to search for this species of ants. So we learned: no Indigofera, means no ants.. means : no surviving brood.. means : no Brenton Blues anymore.
Now back to our garden safari.. we were happy to photograph the Common Blue ( or Zebra Blue)  and the Common Bush Brown.

In the next letter I will try to dive into the bees and wasps. We spotted a lot of these insects during our  garden safaris, I just need some more time to get pictures and text sorted properly.
In the meantime, please stay all well and take care, we would love to see you all in good health on the other side!”