Kitty saw something special among the moss, ranger Frans knows what it is

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Forest ranger Frans Kapteijns shares his knowledge of nature on the radio. Listeners can submit questions via (email protected). This time he pays attention to, among other things, caterpillars dangling from a wire, a special golden beetle, a beautiful bumblebee and ice fingers.
Profile photo of Frans KapteijnsProfile photo of Peter de Bekker

Every Sunday there is also a new episode of the Stuifmail podcast. Listen to the podcast here:

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What is the white on the moss?
Kitty Lemmers–Keulemans came across something white on the moss during a walk along the Oisterwijk fens. They want to know what it is. I think Kitty saw something very special. In the photo you can see ice fingers between most of them. Ice fingers, also called common ice fingers, is a myxomycete. Unfortunately, we have translated the name myxomycetes to slime molds, but that often creates a lot of problems. Myxomycetes are not plants, animals or fungi. They form their own empire. They begin life as single-celled organisms and then form a portable and moving mass with many nuclei. At the end of their life, usually in a permanent place, they develop small fruiting bodies and spores. Thanks to the many rain showers recently, many common ice fingers have appeared on rotting branches, trunks of deciduous and coniferous trees and therefore also on moss. Use this link to see where the common ice finger occurs in the Netherlands.

Beautifully fluffy rock bumblebee on a balcony (photo: Ieke Kereh).
Beautifully fluffy rock bumblebee on a balcony (photo: Ieke Kereh).

What beautiful fluffy bumblebee landed on my balcony?
Ieke Kereh saw a beautiful fluffy bumblebee on her balcony. She simultaneously sent me a photo. In Ieke’s photo you see a black hairy insect with a beautiful orange-red bearing at the end of the abdomen. We are dealing with a bumblebee here. In this case the queen of the stone bumblebee. Stone bumblebees can be found in various landscapes in our country, but they are also regularly seen in city gardens. Queens of the stone bumblebee look for a suitable place to make their nest from mid-March to the end of May. Such a nest can be made – as the name indicates – under stones, but you also find them in wall crevices, in stables and barns. In addition, stone bumblebee nests are sometimes found underground, just like with the earth bumblebee. That is a relative of the stone bumblebee. A full-fledged rock bumblebee nest, also called a colony, consists of one hundred to three hundred workers in addition to the queen.

A birch club sawfly (photo: Jeanine Bouw).
A birch club sawfly (photo: Jeanine Bouw).

A beautiful, but dead insect
Jeanine Bouw enjoyed reading a dead insect under a large lime tree. They would like to know the name of this insect. I think it is a birch club leaf that died there. Butterfly sawflies belong to the hymenoptera family, just like wasps, but are in the subfamily of sawflies. Within the sawflies, the buttonweed sawflies form a separate group, because of the button-shaped thickening at the end of the antenna. Hence their name. You don’t often see birch club sawflies because they live high in birch trees. You can occasionally encounter them in our province, because they mainly occur on sandy soils. There they can be found on birch leaves.

A golden schallebiter with an earthworm as prey (photo: Marco Geboers).
A golden schallebiter with an earthworm as prey (photo: Marco Geboers).

A golden beetle
Marco Geboers came across a very beautiful beetle during a walk along the Pompven in Almkerk. He thought of a golden schallebiter. I completely agree with Marco, this is indeed a golden banger. In his photo you see a beetle with very beautiful green elytra that, when the sun shines on them, turns a golden color. Hence the name of this insect. In addition, the red legs are very noticeable and you can also see some red on the antennae. A very special find by the way, because golden schallebiters are quite rare. They are mainly found in South Limburg, but also in the river area, especially near Almkerk. Golden schallebiters belong to the ground beetle family. These are fearful hunters, the prey can be larger than their own length. They cannot fly, but they can run very fast. Many prey are virtually impossible to divide. Their menu mainly includes snails, but all kinds of insect larvae and earthworms are also eaten together.

A normal dental jaw (photo: Wil Erkeland).
A normal dental jaw (photo: Wil Erkeland).

Which spider has caught prey here?
In the photo that Wil Erkeland sent me, you see a spider that has caught prey. Now Wil wants to know which spider this is. In the photo you see a white spider with long front legs and also some red on the abdomen, so I think we are dealing with the normal tooth jaw. Common tooth jaws belong to the ball spider family. About 2,300 species of ball spiders live on Earth, of which the black widow is the best known. The latter does not occur in the Netherlands, but we do know about eighty other species of Dutch ball spiders. So the name of the spider in the photo is common toothjaw which – unlike most other ball spiders – does not build a large web. Ordinary tooth jaws create a tangle of exciting wires. You often encounter them under umbellifers. It is very special that this common tooth jaw does not shy away from a fight with larger wasp species.

Fawn – Chantal Tijbosch-Heffels
During a walk, Chantal Tijbosch-Heffels came across this calm deer goat. You can find the video via this link.

Galls of the lime tree mite (photo: Anouk Beerlage).
Galls of the lime tree mite (photo: Anouk Beerlage).

What grows on these leaves of an old lime tree?
Anouk Beerlage has been a fan of Stuifmail for a while. Now she also came across something they would like to see in this section. In her street in Vught she came across something remarkable on the leaves of old lime trees. They wonder what exactly it is. In the photo of them together, you can see reddish dots sticking up. We are dealing here with galls caused by lime tree mites.

First a description of what galls are, we know a lot of galls in our country, for example the well-known gall apple in oak trees. Galls are abnormal growths of galls that form on plant forms in response to the presence and activity of various types of parasites, such as insects (especially gall wasps and gall flies), mites, nematodes, fungi or bacteria.

In the case of the lime horns on the lime leaves, we are dealing with mites. These arachnids emit substances into the leaves that cause the lime tree leaves to develop horns (galls). The horns of the lime horn mite are a kind of waste bin that contains the feces of such a mite. Waste that is created after the lime tree mite has sucked a meal of sap from the lime leaf. For more information and beautiful photos, see this link.

Incarnate clover (photo: Anja Bastiaansen).
Incarnate clover (photo: Anja Bastiaansen).

Is this red clover?
Anja Bastiaansen saw a red chime. She wonders if this might be red clover. The answer is no, the plant with the flower in the photo above is an incarnate clover. Nowadays you come across this plant more and more often in our country, thanks to its use in animal feed. The wild incarnate trefoil originally only occurred in the area around the Mediterranean Sea: up to Turkey. This is a plant from the butterfly flower family.

Red clover flowers (photo: Pixabay).
Red clover flowers (photo: Pixabay).

In addition, Anja wonders whether clovers are edible? The domestic white and red clover are edible, but the native clover is also edible. According to some, this is the tastiest clover of all.

The caterpillar of the green oak leaf roller (photo: Marion Linders-Boesveld).
The caterpillar of the green oak leaf roller (photo: Marion Linders-Boesveld).

Little green caterpillars dangling from a wire, why?
On May 16, Marion Boesveld saw all kinds of small green caterpillars dangling from a wire. She wonders why they are doing this. I think these were all caterpillars of the small winter butterfly. These caterpillars feed on the leaves of oak trees. Sometimes you see such an oak tree almost completely eaten bare. If there is any danger to these caterpillars of the small winter butterfly, they will drop from the leaf and hang themselves on a self-spun silk thread. If it is a dangerous soak then they go back. But in June – possibly as early as May – the fully grown and eaten caterpillars descend to the ground again on silk threads to pupate there. The small winter butterflies emerge from their chrysalis between October and December. The females are wingless and climb up the tree trunks where they are fertilized by the flying males. The females then lay their eggs (up to 150) in small pieces on the leaf buds in the tops of the trees. The eggs only hatch after winter and then they start to fear the pinhead-sized caterpillars. See this beautiful video of a male and wingless female of the small winter butterfly.

A willow wood caterpillar (photo: Peter Nabben).
A willow wood caterpillar (photo: Peter Nabben).

Beautiful photos section
In the beautiful photos section, this time a photo taken by Peter Nabben from Sint Willebrord. He saw this large caterpillar during Ascension Day in Essen, Belgium. This caterpillar was five to six centimeters in size, which Peter had never seen before. This is a willow wood caterpillar.

Nature tip
An excursion will be organized on Sunday, June 16, through the Loonse and Drunense Duinen, entitled: ‘In search of badger tracks’. This excursion lasts from ten in the morning to twelve in the afternoon.

You will not easily encounter badgers during this excursion, they are now sleeping soundly. During this wonderful nature walk, participants focus mainly on the life of this wonderful animal and look for the traces that badgers leave behind in nature.

More information:
• Registration is required and can be done via this link.

• Departure point is the parking lot at De Rustende Jager at Oude Bossche Baan 11 in Biezenmortel.

• Participation costs 12.50 euros, members of Natuurmonumenten pay 8.75 euros.

• This excursion is aimed at adults, but older children are also welcome if accompanied by an adult.

• Wear sturdy walking shoes@!

• Wear clothes that suit the weather.

• Always check yourself for ticks afterwards!

• Dogs are not allowed.