It’s a bug’s world

There are some things about life in a tropical, biologically-overcharged country  that you just can’t avoid.

Like bugs. All shapes, colours, degrees of ugliness, beauty or hairiness, size or number of legs/wings. The encounters are often sudden and unexpected, and will generally provoke a reaction – good or bad, depending on where you are in relation to it at the time (i.e. if found in handbag or on pillow, it’s generally not a good outcome, for either bug or self..).  Has anyone else had that experience where you become so accustomed to something crawling on you that your skin crawls by itself, even without a bug on it?  Most disturbing.

Anyway, of the alleged 1/2 a million species that live here, 300,000 are bugs.. I reckon I’ve seen about 15 of those in my house so far (including your ubiquitous large black cockroach), and I have come to accept that this was their home before mine, so the best thing to do is just establish mutual respect, attempt to set some boundaries (generally pointless exercise) and only in extremis, reach for the Baygon Bug Killer (extremely point-ful exercise).

But with the onset of rains, they have a rather irritating habit of crawling into the house to seek refuge or die. Usually both. Barely a day goes by without some multi-legged creature turning up its toes on my kitchen or bedroom floor.  And then the miracle of nature unfolds.

The ants appear, and by the time I am back home in the evening, dead bug bodies are disposed of,  either marched off to Ant Kingdom as prize booty, or demolished on the spot, with just a ghost of bug dust left. Remarkable.  It is for this ecological service that I forgive them for occasionally invading my bed, my breakfast, and most recently my banana cake..

Apart from the ants, there are two other creatures that are non-paying, but welcome, guests.  They play their pre-determined role in the big, wide, bug-world by eating the uglier, flappier, crawlier varieties…They are on my side.

Just another gecko on the wall

Enter stage left, Mr Gecko.

This little fella and his bigger mates chuckle away on walls and ceilings at night and gobble up the nasties. Even ones half his size. Respect!

And then Smiley Spider… named so because…well, just look at his smiley face! Nature’s way of luring you into a false sense of security, no doubt.

smiley spider

Home spun

This one has taken slightly longer to get used to, unsurprisingly.  But it has since moved from the  verandah and gone off to weave its magic in the corner and await its unsuspecting victims..
And just when  you thought that you were safe…. along comes an….. Assassin Bug!  This was, thankfully, outside the house, and a neighbourly discovery, but when I read up on it, and its habits, I was glad it was ‘making a rare appearance’ out of its normal habitat in more junglier parts.

Blood sucking devil

The assassin bug is so known because it kills its prey almost on contact. Apparently it hangs out nonchalantly near flowers, spots its prey, slowly raises its front legs, snatches the poor unsuspecting creature, punctures it with its ‘beak’ and then liquifies the contents with its saliva, sucking it dry and discarding the wrapper.  And if it can’t find a handy bug to eat, or blood to drink, it will make do with something larger, like a sleeping human..
And if you think the eating part is brutal, wait till the sex part..! Think preying mantis.   Males apparently hedge their bets by ‘pouncing’ on the opposite sex when she is eating.  Smart move. Presumably she will be both too startled and/or too full to eat him at this point. Then, in a path well trodden by certain other species we know, ‘ he will stay with her until the following dawn, when the two will separate cautiously. Occasionally separation will not go well, and one may cannibalize the other’.
But in emergency, I can always rely on the rather less exotic, but more dependable services of the neighbour’s friendly black feathered friend, who often wanders into my house uninvited.  She has an eye for detail, and a beak for bugs.
This one’s no chicken..

Morning patrol

And, if you are Colombian, then hey, why not turn a bug into a nice piece of sushi….? After all, we’ve fished the seas almost to extinction – makes eminent sense to switch to a species that outnumbers us by 1000:1.

I am off to Colombia this week, as it happens. Can’t wait…

A bug in a bite

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Clare on May 30, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Appropriately I’m reading this on a verandah in Kerala where I’m being periodically divebombed by bugs.

    Night before last I found myself sharing my bed with a firefly. Never seen one that close before.

    And last night the teeny weeny, size of pin head, ones invaded my room en masse. The floor this morning was a veritable bug graveyard.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Nick on May 31, 2011 at 1:31 am

    The sushi looks good. I can see you coming back and opening a ground-breaking chain of sustainable bug-sushi restaurants in London. Yo-Bugsy or some such.

    Reply

  3. I have a nest of flying ants in my bathroom….please sent Gecko! Also foxes have had cubs….so chicken would be useful. Do NOT under any circumstances send spider – smiling or otherwise!

    Reply

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