I have been very, very good ……..

Anacridium aegptium – or the fable of the ant and the grasshopper

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but now I am naughty….and giving in to my insectophilia. There are two ways to read this post, well in truth 3 (1) skim/don’t read/ 2) read and think of summer/3) read and think of locusts)

Some of you will remember that in the beginnings of this blog there were dragon fly nymphs. There were dragon flies emerging into the sun-light, and dragon flies drying their wings in the sun directly after extrication, oh and there were dragon flies I spotted in the garden. And there were rose chafer grubs, and black vine weevils..And many of you, instead of saying, wow, isn’t that amazing” said “hm, looks a bit bizarre”…and I didn’t even post the photo of the dragon fly nymph sucking in a worm like a piece of spaghetti, which was indeed disturbing.

Anyhow, my excuse for posting the photograph above is that summer is coming! You remember Aesop’s fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the ant worked hard all the time and the cricket sat on a leaf and played his fiddle, and when the winter came, the poor cricket starved and the ant said ” well, told you so, should have put your back into it, byeeee” (**nowadays of course the ant would discover that his company had misinvested his pension fund and that all the money was gone and he would have to keep on working at the check out counter as a bag boy, while the cricket died while young but after a brief life of joy).  – well the original was more elegant but that is the gist).

How often do we wish that we could be more like that grasshopper, sitting in the sun, relaxing, instead of running around as we go about our daily chores? For those of you who don’t like insects, you can stop reading now, think about cold drinks on warm summer nights outside on the deck. Summer is coming soon to a garden near you, unless you on the southern hemisphere..but then you are totally chilled now after your summer hols.

The cricket above, which I seem to remember was a female, I read up on it at the time, something to do with size, (I think the one below is a male ) emerged in a sunny garden in the South of Italy last summer. Instead of studying for my exams, I  made good use of the internet to find out what type of insect it was. And I discovered this really cool website on the swarm risks of locusts. I also discovered that locusts emerge dependent on the population density, and that individual creatures are totally harmless, if you put lots of them together though at some point they reach critical mass, leading to changes in their metabolism and swarming behaviour. A sensible survival strategy of course. I may have learned this at school a long time ago, but since forgotten…..So there I was down in Italy and observing this animal, and after looking at loads of photos I decided the specimen above might be a risk to the local flora (those of you who know about this stuff, laugh if you must).  And ever the good citizen, I sent the locust specialist chapter in Rome a very nice, albeit nerdy, email asking him whether it was a swarming type locust (desert locust) and whether it was new to Italy, and whether I should stop saving it (it had a damaged wing and couldn’t fly…), DOES somebody need to do SOMETHING?

I got this wonderful response from a guy with the title: Senior Locust Forecasting Officer (isn’t that a cool job title?) in green.

Thank you for your message and it is always pleasant to see somebody interested in locusts and grasshoppers. (this made me smile, as imagined him imaging me to an elderly English guy with an insect fixation sending frantic emails…)

What you saw during your holiday in Puglia was not Desert Locust but a local species of grasshopper. As you indicated that it had wing damage, then it was an adult rather than a hopper (juvenile nymph) which does not have wings until after it fledges and becomes an adult. Furthermore, you indicated that it was pale green. Desert Locust adults are never any shade of green; instead, they are dusty brown. Lastly, there are no infestations of Desert Locust near Italy that could have invaded Puglia. At present, the closest infestations are south of the Sahara in northern Niger and the winds are blowing from the north over the Sahara this time of year, preventing locusts from moving to southern Italy. Normally Desert Locusts are not a threat to Italy unless there is a plague in northern Africa that coincides with southerly winds at the right time of year. This is very rare. I hope that this helps to clarify what you saw. Once again, thank you for your time and interest.

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11 thoughts on “I have been very, very good ……..

    • Aha I am sure they come in gigantic sizes in Asia, we only get the small ones. Not sure I’d like them in enormous sizes, but then if they are big they are easier to study, so maybe I would like them!

      • Ahaha I was still thinking of the damn papayas. Gigantic, they were a lovely green colour. I wouldn’t say sweet (though my brother would). I’ll never forget once he put a huge one in a yellow tupperware and put it in my room. So I got back from wherever, and open the tupperware. This gigantic cricket jumps at me and jumps all around the room in panic – and me too in panic hahahaha at least I can laugh about it now 🙂

      • oh yes, and he is from – tadadada – Madrid 🙂 – because when I wanted to get one in Switzerland they wouldnt give me a cat from the shelter, because at the time I didnt have a balcony, so they said “but the kitty needs a balcony, you cannot have a Swiss cat” – fits the stereotypes people have of a spoiled nation……I didnt want to lie, so I found a website (run by divorced ladies who now pamper cats, I kid you not) and they import cats from Spain, the cats are flown in by Iberia stewardesses who take them along on their flights. They are spayed/neutered in Spain, get all innoculations and then they are brought here. Where the people that cannot get a cat adopt them. http://www.madridfelina.com/w1/index.php – so I found him online, fell in love, and a month later he was here. I have since moved and he has 2 gardens to chose from……Re animal laws in CH: you cannot have a housecat by itself, you must always have 2, unless they can go outside. You may not keep rabbits or guineapigs alone as they are are sociable. I love animals and think the laws make sense, on the other hand not being able to adopt a Swiss cat because I didnt have a balcony tells you that the country is weatlhy. And we don’t kill the animals in shelters either, not like in Spain.

  1. He has a balcony, a cat flap and a custom-built spiral stair-case made of wood that he can climb down into the garden if the mood strikes him, he has a better life than most animals and sadly many humans. A friend from Cuba once said – wow – all this stuff belongs to the cat – when I brought him in his carrier basket to my friends – it opened my eyes.

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