Monday, September 12, 2011

More Bugs Than You Can Shake a Stick At.

And believe you me, you can shake a stick at an impressive number of bugs if you set your mind to it.  I had the opportunity once, in the back room of a natural history museum where there was row after row of cabinets full of insect storage trays.  There were so many, I was only just able to shake a stick at them all.  Thousands upon thousands of separate species of bugs of every kind, each identified, pinned and labeled in a tray with scores of other species all meticulously sorted by genre and family, the culmination of many lifetimes of dedicated work.  What a waste!

They're only bugs, after all.  A couple of cans of Raid could have sorted them out just as well.  And if you want to see bugs in endless variety, just come out to Australia.  The coastal scrubland north of Perth has nothing remarkable about it until you take a closer look.  Some 40 million years of geological stability created the right conditions for an explosion of biodiversity, resulting in perhaps millions of species of plants, insects and and spiders, many of which are still unknown to science.  That Noah must have had to make thousands of trips down here and back, and he must have been really good at catching spiders.  I wonder that Mrs. Noah didn't have something to say about it.

But for someone who cares nothing about words like "biodiversity," "genre," and "Linnaeus," they're just curiosities that wander in front of my camera lens from time to time.  Sometimes making a detour through my freezer to make them more compliant models.  Five minutes usually does it, and as they slowly thaw out and stretch their ridiculously numerous limbs, you can take all the pictures you want from every angle.  Longer than that, and they come out dead.  Be careful not to forget and leave them in the freezer for weeks, because someone might find your frozen specimens and think you're some kind of a psychopath who is starting out small.  Or that you have some very odd dietary habits.

Below is a gallery of just a few of the weird creatures I have encountered by doing nothing more than hanging around Western Australia with a camera. Imagine what a really dedicated person could do.  Bore us all to tears, most likely.

Remember, you can click on the images to see them larger.

The blue-green eyeballs of this large fly caught my attention.  The exquisite detail and subtle coloring made no difference whatsoever when my swatter got involved.

I don't know about you, but I've never really looked deeply into a cricket's eyes before.  Don't think I'll bother doing it again, though.  It's kind of creepy.

I discovered this large Redback living inside one of my son's outdoor toys when he was about five.  Constant vigilance is essential.  Panic is optional.

Lest we paint all Australian critters with the same malevolent brush, here's a friendly, harmless and cute (in his own way) animal my son kept as a pet for about 6 months.  He named it Pickett, The Bush Cricket.  He had a soothing melodious song played by sliding his wings together that went something like "zzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZIP!"  OK, it got a little repetitive after about the 400 thousandth time, just like the original Pickett. But he didn't eat much, didn't get hair all over everything, never at any time chewed the cord off my power drill, and never needed to go to the vet.  Except maybe once, but by the time we knew anything about it, it was too late.

Also friendly and harmless is this Walking Stick I found, seen here posing for the camera.  I only wish I could somehow give you a sense of its true size.

Harmless weevil, wondering where the heck he is.

Another marginally less harmless weevil, this one of the Punk variety.

If you were forced to eat one of these, which one would it be?  That's right.  You must always choose the lesser of two weevils.

Weird Bug in the shape of a hairy bowler hat.

Scary orange and black wasp, digging a hole.  Yes, it shocked me too.  No, I can't imagine why, either. But there it was.  Digging for all it was worth.

Feathery moth caught in the rain.

Ghostly grey spider.  Never seen anything like it before or since.

Nasty, evil Kangaroo Tick.  I do not like them, Sam I am.  I do not like them on a farm, I do not like them on my arm.  I will not have one as an egg, I will not have one in my leg.

At first I didn't realize this was a bug at all.  Then I saw it move!  It is the strangest thing I think I've seen yet.  Is it a type of cricket that has been stretched out?  What does it imagine in that tiny brain that it is doing in my Shed?

See, THIS is what a cricket is supposed to look like.

Except perhaps not quite so . . . pink.

Fancy Green Moth.  I find it easier to name them myself rather than trying to look it up somewhere.  It's less work that way.

One more:

Christmas Spider.  Would somebody tell me, please,  what the hell kind of place has Christmas Spiders?  Halloween Spiders, OK.  That would probably work.  But spiders just don't go with any Christmas I understand.

I suppose they are somewhat festive and decorative in a way.  Maybe it's an Australian thing.  More on these come December at The Shed.


  1. Do I detect a little pent-up passive aggression towards those who study insects and other creepy-crawlies?

  2. Certainly NOT! Banish the very thought. Forsooth, even. Quite the contrary, Rick.

    There's nothing remotely passive nor pent-up about it.