Friday, February 22, 2013

Looking Closely - Critters in the Garden

I adore being in the garden, just being still, and watching it change through the seasons. There has been plenty of time to contemplate it whilst watering this summer, and plenty to see. 
An unremarkable picture, can you spot anything interesting in this photo? Look closely. 

 This brown stick insect blends in perfectly with the brown flower stems of sprawling blue bells going to seed. I couldn't resist bringing it inside to show the kids, we don't see stick insects everyday at our house. I love the way nature always has a surprise for us. There was so much joy in watching the slightly spooky, Tim Burton like antics of a stick insect.


The same day Mr Bowerbird found a Rhinoceros Beetle (or perhaps a dung beetle) with the little Bowerbird.

 A praying mantis was climbing our curtains tonight, brought in on a shoulder or bag. I was too tired to grab the camera but its antics were so full of attitude, it was completely ready to take on my partners finger as he cupped his hand to take it outside. So pleased they don't come in human size, they are really formidable up close, and I still can't believe the female will eat its partners head after mating, it does seem extraordinarily harsh.

I love watching ant antics (and illiteration). This small ant was so determined to take this dead but wonderfully iridescent landhopper home for dinner,  I didn't see it find the nest but it was a very slow journey. If I could lift proportionally the same weight I'd be very happy, no struggling with wet bags of manure and large pots.
There are a lot of ants hanging out on these everlasting daisies, I think they may be gathering its ripening seed. I scattered some of it around the garden one summer, only to see it moving of its own volition an hour later, carried along by little ants hiding under fluffy parasols.

A less than favourite visiting critter has been the March fly, or I could rename it the December/January/ February fly as it has been ever present this summer. I saw our dog curl his lip at one recently, I know how he feels, that bite is rather nasty, at least they are slow and you usually get a chance to seek revenge (and they can't bite through boots).

For many of the insects in the garden I can only look and wonder, what is it? what is it eating? where does it live? why is it here now?  I think the above picture is of another type of fly but I have no idea which one or what it is up to. Entomology must be a fascinating career. So fun to share the hunt and wonder with our kids, they are just as often pointing to something new to us as we to them.


  1. Love these posts where your environmental education comes to the fore. great photos - as usual. Linked you up at the latest EPA post about children and nature.

  2. Oh wow, what wonderful pictures, i'm blown away with them...well done! I didn't know dung beatles eat the males head after mating..nature is wonderful isn't it.


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