Thanks to amateurs and experts at waarneming.nl, the Netherlands is currently the only country in the world that is able to properly and automatically count insects, and plans to spend this summer doing so.
Using 100 camera traps that will be placed throughout the country specifically developed to automatically count and recognise insects, Software will be ‘trained’ using a photo database containing several million photos. The size and quality of this database is apparently unique in the world.
Counting and identifying insects gives researchers insight into the numbers of insects nationally as well as the effectiveness of measures being applied to restore biodiversity. According to recent publications in scientific research, there’s an alarming drop in numbers of insects in Western Europe and in Dutch nature reserves. Regular folks like myself often see adverts about the lack of bees, with garden centres selling seed mixtures for plants that attract bees and butterflies.
Using camera traps is a bid deal because they can count and cover more ground as it were. The Netherlands apparently leads the field automatic image recognition of insects and the technique, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, will now be delivered in time for the summer.
(Link: phys.org, Photo of Bee swarm by quisnovus, some rights reserved)
Tags: bees, insects, wildlife
A conservator has discovered that Vincent van Gogh’s painting ‘Olive Trees’ has more to it than meets the eye. Parts of the thorax and abdomen of a grasshopper were preserved in the painting for 128 years, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper, reporting on the painting exhibited at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri in the United States.
The grasshopper was spotted under magnification during research on French paintings at the museum and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Since Van Gogh worked outdoors a lot, it’s not unlikely for an insect to drop dead and end up on a canvas.
And it will not be removed.
(Link and photo: boingboing.net)
Tags: grasshopper, insects, painting, Vincent van Gogh
Excited nature lovers were recently able to observe the pygmy damselfly (Nehalennia speciosa) in the East of the country, an ultra rare species in all of Western Europe, which is currently losing its habitat. The last time the pygmy damselfly was spotted in the Netherlands was in 1912 and 1955 – no wonder this made the news.
The next few years will tell us how big the population is. The damselfly flies from mid May to the end of August with a peak period of mid June to the end of July. And nobody wants to give up the whereabouts of the damselfly in the East because it is that much of a deal.
(Link and photo: www.naturetoday.com)
Tags: damselfly, insects
A new type of gold wasp, the rainbow wasp, was spotted for the first time this summer in the woods of Limburg. It took a while to identify it, but with the help of an Estonian expert, the colourful critter was found to be a Chrysis equestris, part of a family of wasps called ‘cuckoo wasps’.
Besides their beautiful colours, these incandescent wasps are ‘kleptoparasitic’, laying eggs in others insects’ nests, hence the cuckoo reference. The baby wasps then eat the eggs or larva in the nest, a bit like crashing a banquet.
The Netherlands has 57 types of wasps flying around.
(Links: www.naturetoday.com, www.nltimes.nl, Photo: sploid.gizmodo.com)
Tags: bees, insects, Limburg, wasp
An ongoing study by the University of Wageningen has registered 17,000 insects splattered on license plates so far. The researchers made use of 250 volunteer car drivers who counted the number of dead bugs on their plates during 385 trips, De Pers reports today.
Drivers sent in their reports through the website splashteller.nl. Trips that started or ended in the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Zeeland yielded the most dead insects, whereas Gelderland turned out to have the smallest number of dead bugs.
In total 133 billion insects die on cars every month, though not just on license plates. Train locomotives are pretty much covered in them.
Tags: insects, University of Wageningen
Our current governement is on its way out, and there are elections in early June. This means no major decisions can be taken, and it’s more about tying up loose ends and cleaning out desks. But hey, let’s stir things up and give one million euro for research into eating bugs. Nom!
For the next three years, the Wageningen University & Research Centre gets to research which insects are worth eating. And then, the clichés: scientists say they’re just as good for you as meat, it’s good for the environment, and also my favourites, people in Asia and Africa eat them, they’re good with chocolate (bye bye health argument) and so on.
Why not just ask the Asians and Africans for recipes and/or their research instead of throwing all that money out the window? No, wait, why not start a marketing campaign to eat bugs? Wait, we don’t eat bugs, and unless we totally run out of food, we’re not going to consider eating bugs any time soon.
I grew up near one of the only, if not the only place where you can gawk at insects and then eat some: the Montréal Insectarium. If only they did that at the farm with burgers. Or maybe fast food chains should sell bug burgers. Nom!
(Link: telegraaf.nl, Photo of Worms by Wahj, some rights reserved.)
Tags: insects, Wageningen