Friday, November 16, 2012

Soldier Beetles and Lizards Tails

Warning, some of these images may disturb you.
 Bees are sipping nectar from fallen flowers. I am constantly reminding the children to put their shoes on, not to walk around bare feet, or in their socks. We have had one Jumping Jack ant bite already this season, they sting like crazy. Rubbing a fresh lavender leaf on the bite helps soothe the pain, but is a bit best avoided (lavender also helps bee stings).
 Soldier Beetles are swarming. They cover everything but are apparently not doing any harm, in fact they are predators of many of the garden's foes. The mating swarm will disperse once the party is over, they have been around a couple of weeks and seem to be increasing in number, it's quite a sordid affair. The eldest Bowerbird is squeamish about their abundance and refuses to move the guinea pig cage that is covered in them. The beetles emit a white liquid to ward off predators, amazingly the CSIRO have discovered the same beetle juice has anti-cancer and antibiotic properties that may be synthesised for our benefit

 The little Bowerbird is not the slightest bit fazed by beetles.
Nor fashion, a look entirely her own.
 Nor dead things.
The Little Bowerbird visited this poor Blackbird daily until we buried it. I'm not sure what killed it. Death takes a lot of observance to get your head around, she studied the bird closely, even poking it with a stick.  I remember the other two being similarly fascinated by dead things at this age. Always asking me to stop on walks so they could study decaying creatures, wanting to know what had happened. Almost 40, I am still getting my head around death, it's just so ridiculously final, perhaps there is something to be gained from looking at it up close.
 Then there is life, the summer vegies are being planted, a new cycle begins. The little Bowerbird and I were having a pause in the garden, watching ants disappear and re-emerge from this hole, some hold little seeds in their jaws, some have wings.
 Our neighbour's cat comes to visit, strutting about with an air of ownership, prowling for his next feast. He has been a daily visitor since the arrival of an exuberant puppy at his home.
"Mummy mummy look what I found" pipes the little Bowerbird.
 A wriggling tail twitches wildly in her hand. "Put it down, put it down", I say a little too loudly.  It is my turn to be squeamish. She has caught me off guard with this offering of something to delight in. The cat has been hunting skinks and forced one to use their death defying, drop the tail and run trick. Of course it is fascinating, and there is no harm in holding the tail. I try and soothe the look of anxiety from my little ones face.  Anxiety is not a good thing to share, and I calm my nerves and we talk about lizard tails. She pats the tail and feels its shiny scales. I explain the lizard has probably survived and will grow a new tail. She leaves it near the ants nest where it will be quickly found and used to sustain their rapidly increasing population.

Life goes on.
Do lizard tails make you squeamish?


  1. I love the way you have shown me to stop and take delight in the tiniest of things, like ants carrying seeds.
    I love the way kidlets can draw our attention to things we'd otherwise not notice! xo

    1. Kids are awesome like that. So quick to notice the little things.

  2. I'm not squeamish about lizard's tails...but probably would not pick one up just in case it was connected to a snake instead. I am very squeamish about snakes!

    1. yes a lizards tail definitely seems a bit snake like, I was surprised at how squeamish I was.

  3. Love your pictures, especially your daughters fashion sense. My boys had their own fashion as well, all you can do is smile.

    Very little makes me squeamish, good thing as I raised two boys who I wanted to love nature. I enjoy lizards (and snakes) and miss my friendly visits from a lizard when I lived in the southwest, none to be found here. In college I became known as the snake lady to those who didn't know my name after being spotted holding a boa for my kids to touch :-)

    1. ha, snake lady, that's an impressive title. Yes nothing can be done to curb our little ones fashion creations, definitely best to smile.

  4. I'd probably be a little squeamish about a wriggling lizard tail too ;-)

    isn't the way children explore the natural world wonderful.

    Thank you for your kind wishes re my column Kirsty. x t.

  5. I'm not particularly squeemish about lizard's tails per se but not realising that they dropped them when in danger I would have been sad about its demise. We caught a mouse in a snappy trap the other day and I screamed blue murder when I saw it to the point that my next door neighbour was sure something horrific had happened to the kids. Still not sure why it affected me so much - squashed furry thing is never pleasant I guess...

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  7. That's good to know about lavender leaves help with bee stings. I cringe when there are bees on the lawn Miss 8 reacts quite a bit to insect stings and bites. I have to say I would be squeamish seeing a wriggling lizard tail too. I love though how little ones love insects:) x


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young