Sunday, 29 June 2014

Big Bug Hunt

We like to think that we are at the top of the food chain, and it's largely true. Very few of us get eaten by tigers or sharks. But spare a thought, for a moment, for all those six-legged creatures that inhabit our gardens, our homes, and even our own bodies.

In the garden we probably hate greenflies , sawflies, wasps, ants and mosquitos, but we welcome butterflies, bees and ladybirds. We hardly notice the other insects such as pollen beetles, hover-flies and nocturnal moths, but they all play their part.

In the house we really don't want any insects at all but they are still there. Cockroaches and bed bugs are common. About our bodies we may have head-lice, fleas and other unwelcome guests that we do not want to mention.

The Royal Entomological Society wants us to celebrate our insect brethren during National Insect Week and I approve entirely. As we have moved up the food-chain we may have forgotten how much we depend on plants and insects for our very survival. Not only that, the life cycles of these beasties is a revelation to everyone who wants to discover the aliens that live in our midst.

Today, we held a "Big Bug Hunt" at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve. The weather was unpromising but we took three families on our walk and we all found something new to learn about.  Despite the rain and cool conditions we saw damselflies, scorpion flies, shield bugs, grasshoppers, frog hoppers, ladybirds, moths and butterflies.

By coincidence, my son Nicholas is working on an exhibition of illustrations featuring our six-legged friends at the Atomica Gallery in London. It's called "Home Sweet Home" and will run from August 14th. Check out his work at