This plant is poisonous but you don’t have to fight it, Frans explains

Forest ranger Frans Kapteijns shares his knowledge of nature on the radio every week. Listeners can submit questions via [email protected] This time in Dustmail he pays attention to a swabbing insect, a carnivorous plant and a female blackbird with a strange beak.
Profile photo of Peter de Bekker

Which spontaneously emerging plant is this?
In the photo that Lonneke de Gruiter sent me, you see a plant with many yellow flowers. We are dealing here with ragwort. Lonneke already suspected this, because she writes in her message that she thinks this is jacobaea. That is the scientific name of ragwort: jacobaea vulgaris subsp. vulgar. Vulgaris means something like ordinary.

This beautiful green plant with yellow flowers is the staple food for zebra caterpillars. These are the caterpillars of the scallop moth and they are completely adapted to eating ragwort. It has to be, because that beautiful plant is quite poisonous. It is a pity that the word poisonous means that people massively fight this beautiful plant, which is also important for a very beautiful butterfly. While mammals such as horses ignore the plant and do not eat it. So there is no need to fight at all. Be careful that ragwort is not hayed, because animals do not know the plant in the hay and things can go wrong.

Large poplar longhorn beetle (photo: Hannie Houben).
Large poplar longhorn beetle (photo: Hannie Houben).

A swabbing insect still sat quietly
Hannie Houben saw an insect on a leaf. The insect ‘swabbed’ with the feelers. She wondered what animal this is. She had seen one of the many longhorn beetles sway. This is the large poplar longhorn. Poplar longhorn beetles are easily recognized by their yellowish to brown color, but also by the antennae that are slightly longer than the body. They can reach a maximum length of thirty millimeters, counting without the antennas.

At dusk, the adult large poplar longhorn beetles eat the leaves of poplars. After sunset they fly all the way to the crown of the tree. The larvae of these longhorn beetles first live on the bark, but in the second year they make tunnels in the poplar wood and also a pupation chamber.

Small sundew (photo: Olga Roukema).
Small sundew (photo: Olga Roukema).

What kind of beautiful red plant is this?
Olga Roukema and her daughter came across a beautiful plant on Surae near Dorst. They wondered what this is. It felt a little tacky. They thought it was a carnivorous plant. That’s right, because the little sundew – that’s the name – is indeed a carnivorous plant.

Lesser sundew belongs to the sundew family and grows up to ten centimeters high. They have red spatula-shaped leaves in rosettes and hairs with drops on them. These droplets contain the enzymes that digest captured prey. The sundew family is often found on very mineral-poor soil. They need some extra minerals for their optimal nutrition. That is why they are dependent on catching and digesting small insects.

A blind bee (photo: Jelmer Keij).
A blind bee (photo: Jelmer Keij).

Is this animal a queen bee?
Jelmer Keij sent me a photo of something he suspected to be a bee. But that is not it. If you look very closely, you can see that it is an insect with only two wings. Then the insect belongs with the flies and mosquitoes. Bees have four wings. Still, I can imagine that Jelmer thought that this is a bee, because the appearance is very similar and so we are again dealing with mimicry. This insect goes by the name blind bee, but that name is not correct. The blind bee is a beautiful hoverfly. But that the animal resembles a bee, birds and people think that such a blind bee can sting. But she can’t.

A female blackbird with a fused beak (photo: Henk de Winter).
A female blackbird with a fused beak (photo: Henk de Winter).

Blackbird woman with a crooked beak, what’s going on here?
Henk de Winter sent me a photo showing a female blackbird with a heavily deformed beak. The beak has become longer and crooked and there was something strange underneath it. Henk wondered what might have happened.

Normally, just like our nails, beaks continue to grow, but by wearing them down, such a beak acquires a normal size. People have to trim their nails, because we don’t use our hands like monkeys do. Birds’ beaks wear out because they use it for eating, digging, chopping, and so on. However, in some birds – because it is more common – the beaks grow too fast. Possibly due to a virus, the circovirus. The result is indeed such a curved beak.

Waiting for privacy settings…

Life of a wasp spider – Wouter van Bernebeek
More and more people come across a wasp spider, so it is interesting to learn a little more about it. The name wasp spider has everything to do with its appearance. This spider cannot sting, but it can bite. But that bite is harmless to humans. Above is a compilation video of the wasp spider. You see the animal catching and eating prey, building a web and cleaning it. The wasp spider is a special and until recently rare spider, which is spreading further and further due to the warmer weather.

The female of a rhinoceros beetle (photo: Annelies Erkelens).
The female of a rhinoceros beetle (photo: Annelies Erkelens).

Which beetle is here with our manure heap?
Annelies Erkelens sent me a photo of a beetle unknown to her. In that photo you see a fairly large beetle with warm dark brown elytra. I think we are dealing here with the female of the rhinoceros beetle. This beetle species is named after the fairly large horn-like spine on the heads of the males.

The male, with horn, and the female of the rhinoceros beetle (photo: Saxifraga/Mark Zekhuis).
The male, with horn, and the female of the rhinoceros beetle (photo: Saxifraga/Mark Zekhuis).

The females of the rhinoceros beetle have a very small horn, which is barely visible. Thanks to the increased interest in gardening and making compost heaps, these beetles are becoming more common in Brabant. In the period from the end of June to August they fly during the evenings in flocks near suitable breeding grounds.

A queen page (photo: Anja Lindelauf).
A queen page (photo: Anja Lindelauf).

Which butterfly do I see here?
Anja Lindelauf sent me a photo of a really beautiful butterfly. She wondered which butterfly this is. We call this beautiful large yellow butterfly with many black markings and also some blue and red. Queen’s pages have become more common in recent years than before. This has to do with global warming. Furthermore, sowing herbs in roadsides offers extra opportunities for this beautiful butterfly.

The caterpillars of this beautiful butterfly can be found on various umbellifera and you see them en masse on the roadsides in Brabant. Wild carrot is their plant of choice, but castorel, angelica, dill, parsnip and fennel are also popular. The cultivated carrots are also a host plant for these caterpillars.

The adult butterfly, also known as imago, has a wingspan of up to 75 millimeters. This makes it the largest butterfly in the Netherlands. Adult queen pages don’t really go looking for food anymore. They also only live for a few weeks. They mainly look for partners to mate. After mating, the females lay up to 500 eggs on various plants of the umbellifer family.

Nature tip
If you are looking for a nice nature outing, you can opt for a lovely bike ride with picnic in Oisterwijk. This is organized by the Oisterwijkse Bicycle Tasting. Participants receive a beautiful cycling route and information about the area and places of interest.

At the start location Mie Pieters you will be welcomed with a cup of coffee or tea with something delicious. Here you will also receive a filled picnic basket with various snacks (including delicious bread from Robèrt van Beckhoven), drinks and a clipboard with the route. Return the empty basket and the route to Mie Pieters.

More information:
• The bicycle picnic can be booked for two to a maximum of ten people.

• Reservations and information through the following link

• Departure point Mie Pieters is located at Laag Heukelomseweg 13 in Heukelom.