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Mid-summer lantern

Common European glowworm (Lampyris noctiluca)

Svartskog, Norway

Bioluminescence has fascinated me since early childhood when I first encountered these glowing dots in the heather, mosses, lichen or bare rocks by the ocean where I live.

As the years went on I have been fortunate to encounter incredible diversity of glowing insects, fungi and ocean-dwellers. In South America glowing termite mounds towering higher than me in the forests and the Cerrado, jellyfish in the seas of Asia, species as bright as a LED light in the forest of the Guiana Shield in Venezuela and glowing fungi in Thailand.

Common to the tropics is the absolutely stunning diversity, intensity and beauty.

Yet these uncommon glowworms of Scandinavia are as exciting as those in the tropics to me, as they signify the magic of the bright Nordic nights filled with sweet scents from so many flowering species. The sky has no stars, yet nature has produced these green and rare stars on the ground that you can see if you are lucky. And they have only a very short time during the darkest of the twilight to shine before daylight reigns supreme again

This summer, as with every summer, I had my usual round before I went to bed to check for these green dots, and lo and behold – I finally encountered this one. It was shining against the northern sky and thus competing with the sky that this night had a veil of high clouds dimming the bright sky somewhat.

I ran inside to get my camera gear and started shooting some test shots to see it if was sitting still, as some are moving the shining part of the body in slow tai chi-like movements, thus making a long exposure out of the question. It was indeed very still, so I decided to shoot some long exposures before I added some artificial light to enable lower ISO. But suddenly the show was over, and as the sky was brightening I knew this was it for this night.

Only when I checked the images on my computer did I see that I was in fact capturing a mating, and when the show was over the male took to the wings to hopefully encounter another glowing female nearby.

I will continue to look for it and others in the coming nights, but in just a couple of weeks it will all be over.

During my several decades at this location I have only one summer experienced a lot of them, which means 20-30 within half a square kilometer. Usually it’s 0-5, so I wonder to this day what caused that surge in glowworms that year. It was absolutely amazing and made me think of the tropics.

Image Copyright © 2017 +Morten Ross
Image Capture Date: 29 June 2017 02:18
Altitude: 4 meters

#insects #summer #norway #svartskog

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Close encounters

Himalayan honey bee (Apis dorsata laboriosa)

Bhutan

From afar these enormous nests blend very well with the rock they are glued to and they are easy to miss if you do not know where to look. They build their nests on overhangs, protected by the rain and debris from above. Rocks do frequently fall down the mountain sides and cliff faces - on their own or due to passing mammals like the foraging macaques or wild goats like the goral.

This nest was one of many clustered together on this overhang, and it was an awesome sight! Fortunately for me this was a cool, cloudy and misty day, so the bees were idle – hanging on to their amazing constructions. During a warmer and more sunny day, I can only imagine the buzzing sounds coming from all the bees flying in and out of these amazing hives.

There was one Yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) sitting very close to the hives, but it did not disturb the bees during my encounter. The disturbing was the work of a rather large number of drongos (Dicrurus sp). One by one they flew up close to a hive so that some of the bees took to the wings to investigate, these individuals were in turn snapped up by the drongos. One of these bees was injured and ended up in the neck of the jacket of my guide which became quite agitated and focused on getting rid of it. A sting from these huge bees is not something you’d want to experience.

Fortunately the stinger had already been pulled out and thus rendered unable to make another sting, at least not intentionally.

I encountered several of these colonies during my time in Bhutan and also some that were completely abandoned.

Image Copyright © 2017 +Morten Ross
Image Capture Date: 01 April 2017 13:55
Altitude: 2200 meters

#insects #bees #bhutan

#PhotoManiaScandinavia +Photo Mania Scandinavia curated by +Walli Werner +Ronny Årbekk +Robert Walter +Jakob Schüssler +Sebastian T. +Chandro Ji
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A skimmer of Madre de Dios

Dragonfly (Skimmer of the Libellulidae family)

www.ross.no

Amazon Research and Conservation Center (ARCC) is protecting primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon, and this is one of countless species of dragonflies I encountered.

I found a large fallen tree which had created new opportunities for many species. Now an opening to the sky and sun was available together with a hole in the ground that was quickly filled with rainwater. In and around it lots of butterflies and dragonflies were found.

It’s incredible how this island of light and water so quickly was colonised. Not long ago this was dense and dark jungle.

I don't have a positive identification of this, but it is probably of the genus Amberwings.

Image Copyright © 2013 +Morten Ross

#insects   #dragonfly   #amazonia   #madrededios   #peru  
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Resting in the shadows

Owl butterfly (Caligo sp)

www.ross.no

I shot this in the dense primary forest of Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in Bolivia. This amazing butterfly is resting in the shade deep in the forest and close to where the table mountain rises from the flat forest floor. This table mountain has several names of which these are most commonly used: Huanchaca Plateau, Caparu Meseta (Meseta de Caparú), and from it you can see the entire park – a view you thought no longer possible because I could only see forest! Not a single human structure was visible to my eye! That is how large the park is. But how long will that last? On all sides there are powerful interests encroaching on its borders, and the park is not well managed.

It is an impressively diverse park that is now almost impossible to visit from the Bolivian side due to all infrastructure falling apart. Hiking from the nearest village to this location will take 2-3 days, but that is likely the only option now, as the logging road once built has been overtaken by the forest.

This is in 2012, and even then the dirt road was so full of fallen trees and overhanging vegetation, that even with two chainsaws, we barely made it before nightfall to the base camp, from where we hike up to the plateau. Other visitors have reported it took two days to get to the base camp!

With almost zero tourists now visiting, there will be almost nobody reporting or documenting the goings on in this incredibly valuable park, and information is more and more hard to come by. This is a World Heritage Site, which makes this even more confusing.

Image Copyright © 2012 +Morten Ross

#butterfly   #insect   #jungle   #forest   #bolivia   #noelkempff  
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The end of summer

Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia)

www.ross.no

There are fewer and fewer plants with flowers now, as the autumn is closing in fast. You can see it in the once colorful fields, now yellow and worn. You can see it on the wings of the butterflies, now torn and bland.

One day soon, these butterflies will fly no more, but today they thrive on the few remaining flowers like these Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) plants. These flowers are like magnets to the butterflies, and they compete with many other insect species. For me to see three Silver-washed fritillaries fluttering around just one flowering plant in a bog was a wonderful experience, as it was like an island of life in a sea of progressing death.

Watching how damaged the wings of the butterflies were, I was amazed of how effortless they were flying, and wonder if they would need extra nectar to keep up or compensate for the extra energy they must spend on flight. In any case the food was running out, and even though there were several flower buds – waiting for them to open might not be possible if there is no other flower to collect nectar from in the meantime.

Image Copyright © 2016 +Morten Ross

#insects   #butterflies   #norway   #skogbygda  
#PhotoManiaScandinavia +Photo Mania Scandinavia curated by +Walli Werner +Ronny Årbekk +Robert Walter +Jakob Schüssler +Sebastian T. +Chandro Ji
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Leave your weeds alone and this happens

European Peacock (Aglais io)

www.ross.no

Now the summer is over, and there are fewer and fewer flowers for the butterflies to collect nectar from. Only the heather provides a rich boost before the autumn is here in a short while.

If your garden has no place for wildflowers, or weeds as defined by the big chemical companies providing weed killers, your garden also has no place for the wonderful late summer butterflies like the European peacock.

The beginning of autumn is the time of the Autumn Hawkbit (Leontodon autumnalis), and it's a magnet to butterflies, as it provides a much needed source of nectar. Some might say this plant looks like the dandelion. The dandelion is the number one target species by the weedkiller companies, so many might feel an urge to remove this yellow flowered plant from their garden in order not to give off a sign to their neighbors that they have a weedy garden.

Yet by doing so you also remove any possibility of watching wonderful butterflies visiting your garden in the early autumn.

I let this species grow freely, as the lawn can be cut when they have set seeds.

Every sunny day I enjoy the fluttering peacocks and other species visiting every single flower time and time again. And this autumn they have been many more than previous years.

Image Copyright © 2016 +Morten Ross

#insecs   #butterflies   #svartskog  
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Recycling

www.ross.no

The short life of this butterfly is over, and it ended its life on this leaf here in Parque Estadual Encontro das Águas in Pantanal, Brazil. Already legs are missing, and soon fungi or other insects will have consumed the entire body as if it never existed.

Most only have an eye for the living butterflies fluttering between flowers, but these beautiful creatures, like everything else on this planet, have only a short amount of time before the body once again will return to Mother Earth.

This is something so pure and wonderful as humanity cannot corrupt it, nor change it! Yet so few really treasure life when they have it!

Live life! Here. Now.

It may end at any time!

#insects   #butterflies   #macrophotography   #pantanal  
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Escaping the flood

Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula (Lasiodora parahybana)

www.ross.no

Night time in Pantanal is as exciting as the daytime, and during my several night walks – mostly focusing on the huge number of frog species – I came across this beauty very slowly climbing this large tree.

The land around this tree, at SouthWild Pantanal in Brazil, was slowly being submerged, and all the new pools around this tree were so packed with frog sounds it was really amazing.

The tarantula was just a metre or so up the tree when I noticed it and continued slowly upwards. This was a solitary tree, not one in a forest, so I wonder if it will find sufficient food here during the wet season.

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Amazonian dragonfly

www.ross.no

Amazon Research and Conservation Center is protecting primary rainforest in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon, and this is one of countless species of dragonflies I encountered.

I found a large fallen tree which had created new opportunities for many species. Now an opening to the sky and sun was available together with a hole in the ground that was quickly filled with rainwater. In and around it I found lots of butterflies and dragonflies.

It's incredible how this island of light and water so quickly was colonized. Not long ago this was dense and dark forest floor.

#dragonfly   #insects   #amazonia   #peru   #madrededios  
#PhotoManiaScandinavia +Photo Mania Scandinavia curated by +Walli Veeser +Ronny Årbekk +Robert Walter +Jakob Schüssler +Sebastian T. +Chandro Ji
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Worn and torn

Blue-banded Morpho (Morpho achilles)

www.ross.no

Morphos are mesmerizing! In flight you see the flash of blue, but when they sit they’re invisible as they almost never open the wings and the underside is like the surroundings of its environment – the dark and dappled forest floor.

This individual is old and torn, perhaps somewhat confused as it’s sitting with open wings by the edge of the oxbow lake at the Amazon research and conservation Center (ARCC). Getting a photo of a morpho with open wings is very hard, so this was a welcomed opportunity – albeit a torn specimen.

#butterflies   #insects   #peru   #madrededios   #googleplusphotos  

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