Bumblebee grooming

Looking at this photograph of a bumblebee with a sprinkling of pollen grains on its head, made me wonder, how often do they groom themselves? Some bumblebees get absolutely covered in pollen! Here’s one grooming himself on the flower-head of an aster (below). Bumblebees often groom themselves whilst flying between flowers – talk about multi-tasking!…

Spiders, silk and packed lunches

We rather take spiders for granted. We are all aware of them in our homes and gardens; some people like them, some people loathe them. But they really are amazing animals with some extraordinary abilities. Like producing silk; supposedly the toughest natural fiber in the world and as strong as steel. They have also been…

Beetle and mite team

Flip over one of these beautiful dung beetles – which are found in northern Spain – and more often than not you will see a bunch of tiny mites – hangers-on! – on the shiny blue underside. These hitch-hikers are called phoretic mites. Phoresy, or phoresis, is the transport of one animal via another; but for…

Sand-hoppers playing possum

The European sand flea or sand-hopper, Talitrus saltator (Montagu, 1808) is an amphipod crustacean (Family Talitridae; Order Amphipoda) which lives on sandy shores from Norway to the Mediterranean. Most people have probably seen them hopping about on the beach, especially in the zone of wet sand created as waves go out or the tide falls. Their typical…