Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A face only an orthopterist could love...

It's a bit startling to come into the living room and find something like this - or actually, exactly this - lying on the carpet struggling with the fluff. It's a weta, but not a giant fortunately. They can reach 10cm/4in in body length, plus spiky legs and antennae, and weigh more than a sparrow, the heaviest insect in the world. This one was a tree weta, half that size, and a bit woozy from the automatic flyspray, so it wasn't too scary to take it outside, though I did keep my fingers away from those fearsome mandibles. I'm guessing it decamped out of the Christmas tree, which is a very dense one this year. Of course now I wonder what else is lurking inside it, but I'm not going to look, just in case I find something.
Where to go with this, travel-wise? Insects I have met... there were cave wetas when I went to Waitomo and ziplined underground through the dark in an unfetching blue boilersuit and freezing works white gumboots. There was the vast net of spiderwebs connecting the tall thistles in a gully that I rode my horse through while wearing just a bikini in South Australia - obviously, I didn't see them till too late, and my skin is crawling still. There was also the tarantula there that the girl going into my room ahead of me spotted, and reduced to a big red and black smear on the bedspread before I had the chance to fix in my memory forever all its horrible hairy detail. Then there was the invisible swarm of whining mosquitoes in New Caledonia that emerged, voracious, from crevices in our long-unused room and spent the entire night feasting on our blood until, fatigued and frustrated, we were driven to sleep on the floor in someone else's kitchen before I went to work the next morning with 47 bites on my face alone. The man ahead of me on the 4-day Bay of Fires walk in Tasmania had a shiny black leech attach itself to his sock. But really, considering some of the places I've slept and walked through, my insect and spider encounters have been very few, thank goodness.

Rather than leave you with the nightmarish images above, I'll finish with the order that I've happily seen most of: butterflies. In an aviary in Kuala Lumpur, where I spent a happy but extremely sweaty hour chasing them from flower to flower. Up the Amazon in Peru, where I blithely blundered through the jungle surrounding the lodge peering through my viewfinder at the glorious iridescent colours and completely forgetting about my sandalled feet in grass that hid snakes. Much more tamely at Changi Airport in Singapore, where people, dislocated both mentally and physically, can reconnect with a bit of nature in the butterfly room. And with delight in Brazil at Iguassu Falls, where a yellow puddle edged with a flock of even yellower butterflies was in its small way as glorious a watery sight as the thundering falls themselves.

2 comments:

China visa application said...

I wonder what the Butterflies are trying to do at one place.. but you captured it very well. Very nice pictures.

Pamela Wade said...

Thank you! I think the butterflies are just drinking.

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