• Lacerta Bilineata

Lagarto Verde Occidental - Presas "Extraterrestres"

Our local Lacerta bilineata population - as I have mentioned in other blog posts before - currently resides in a fly honeysuckle shrub that has overgrown a young oak tree. There's many good reasons why these western green lizards have colonized that bush: it provides safety from ground predators, lots of cover from danger above like hawks, plus the reptiles' natural green camouflage blends in excellently with the thick carpet of leaves that stretches over seven or eight meters.

But what I've noticed also is that even before the fly honeysuckle starts blossoming and becomes a virtual bug El Dorado, it already attracts countless insects; especially flies seem to be almost magically drawn to its leaves (one would guess this is also how the plant came by its name ;-). These flies obviously are an excellent food source for the lizards, and as I've come to observe, for juvenile Lacerta bilineata in particular it might even be vital that their prey practically flies into their mouth, and they don't have to move around a lot to find food.

The baby lizards are very vulnerable to predators, and they usually remain motionless among the leaves and mostly rely on their brown-green camouflage when danger approaches. Unlike the adults, which flee often long before you even see them, in my experience the youngsters only take flight at the last moment. This makes sense; as long as they don't move, in addition to being nearly invisible they also don't cause any vibrations or noise, and so predators such as snakes, cats or birds of prey would have a very hard time to find them.

The baby lizards I was able to observe oftentimes would remain in the exact same spot for hours; they would just wait motionless until an unlucky fly would land on a leaf right in front of their mouths. And then they would only have to do a quick little forwad movement with their head to get dinner - without drawing any dangerous attention to themselves. So the gallery below is dedicated to those flies (all of them photographed on that honeysuckle shrub in May 2021). Apart from being an excellent food source for many animals, these insects are also important pollinators for many plants, and viewed up close they are of a striking alien beauty that never fails to fascinate me.