domingo, 27 de fevereiro de 2011

Tomares ballus

Tomares ballus, the Provence Hairstreak is an interesting little butterfly species found only in western Europe from Portugal to southern France and in north Africa, from Morocco to Libya.
It belongs to a genus which is found throughout the whole Holomediterranean and central Asiatic area, from the Atlantic to the Himalayas and encompassing about 9 species. They are all rather secretive and local species in scrubland or rocky xeric habitats and aren't well known by most people because they fly so early in the year.

Male Tomares ballus

For instance, Tomares ballus can be seen on the wing as early in the season as late December in Morocco until mid March although it's normal flight period goes from late February to mid April, depending on weather, altitude and sun exposure.

Female Tomares ballus, a bit more colourful than the male

In Portugal this species is found sparsely and it's distribution is not very well known because of its early flight period. There are colonies known from pretty much the whole of the country although it seems to prefer xerothermophilous situations in rather mesic habitats (clearings, calcareous hills) in the western and southern part of the country and colonies are very local with a small number of individuals.

Typical habitat, mediterranean scrubland covered xerothermophilous hills.

Females are more commonly seen and both sexes can be usually flushed out of the most usual foodplant, Astragalus lusitanicus (Erophaca baetica).

Footplant: Astragalus lusitanicus (Fabaceae), forming characteristic clutches.

This is quite a difficult species to photograph as the butterflies are rather wary and tend to land in difficult positions for the photographer, among grasses and the foodplant, so one needs to be (very!) patient.

Female Tomares ballus on A. lusitanicus. (Near the centre of the picture)

sexta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2011

Playing bowies with me

"It won't do it for me
Cus I can perceive
The tricks of your sleeve
Your magician days are gone"

slug on gorse (Ulex europaeus), Limacidae (Gatropoda)
Mafra, Portugal

terça-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2011

You and I

"Drawn into a world of choices,
Bitter hearts and angry voices"

Ciconia ciconia (Aves, Ciconiidae)
Alentejo, Portugal.

segunda-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2011

You know who I am

"And who cares if they don't ever understand
And I love you because you know who I am"

Alytes cisternasii (Anura, Alytidae)
Alentejo, Portugal
[these pictures are also featured on the ARKive website, devoted to the broadcasting of rare and charismatic species all over the world: ]

sábado, 19 de fevereiro de 2011

Autumn leaves

Some moths are different. They do their best to resemble anything else but a tasty, nutritious meal and while some conceal themselves in crevices or lay their wings tightly to the substrate, others want to be leaves. Because withered, ragged leaves aren't usually a great meal this strategy emerged as quite a successful one and a lot of species practice it.
One interesting group are the Thorn moths, in family Geometridae, genera Ennomos and Selenia, which unlike the majority of moths also lay their wings butterfly like, i. e., vertical to the substrate and thus have quite nice patterns on the undersides.
Enjoy some of these marvels from the woodland!

Ennomos alniaria

Ennomos fuscantaria

Selenia dentaria

Selenia lunularia

And finally, a completely unrelated moth which adopted a similar strategy, albeit it takes it another level by curling up its own wings.

Phlogophora meticulosa

sexta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2011

Who are you...?

"For how long
How strong do I
still have to be?"

Bursinia sp. (Dictyopharidae)
Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal

quinta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2011


"And we'll float with our heads in the water
We'll dry our hands in the fire"

Cabo da Roca, Portugal

quarta-feira, 16 de fevereiro de 2011

There's nothing wrong with us

Curculio elephas (Coleoptera, Curculionidae)
Serra da Estrela, Portugal

terça-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2011

The longest road

Campo Maior, October 2008

Hold still

Anthocharis cardamines
Arrábida, Portugal

segunda-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2011

Kiss me, oh kiss me.

Hyla arborea, Hylidae
Setúbal, Portugal

Summer will bring you over

Comibaena bajularia, Geometridae
Serra da Estrela, Portugal

domingo, 13 de fevereiro de 2011

Dreams in colour

Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) on Portuguese Crowberry (Corema album).