By Sherry McKelvie

BUGS  - Beautiful, Unbelievable, Gorgeous.......or.......Beastly, Ugly and Gross??

Whatever you feel about ‘’Creepy Crawlies’’, if you take time to look at them closely, you cannot help but be awed by their complexity and their colours and life-cycles.  Be they Butterflies, Spiders or Insects,  these tiny creatures  display God’s Creation at its best.

Bulago Island, where we have a holiday cottage, is my bug paradise.  A keen photographer, I initially concentrated on the wonderful bird life, but my imagination was soon captured by the amazing bugs to be found as I walked along the many paths.  Finding a new bug is a highlight of my weekend!  I have to admit, friends hate going for walks with me – ‘’ Wow! Will you look at that!!’’ I exclaim, and I’m there with my camera for the next half hour!

For those of you who are entimologists, I’m afraid I cannot claim to have any scientific knowledge, (apart from what I can find in my  Field guide to Insects of South Africa) – just a joy of nature. 

My all-time favourite bug is the Sphaerocoris, or the Picasso Bug.

      

The adult is bright yellow with a zigzag collar of black, turquoise and red and its back has turquoise teardrops outlined in black.  The immature bug can be yellow, red and black or even pink and gold and black.  One of my friends suggested I had photographed a painted ping pong ball – and wouldn’t believe it was real until I took him to the bush and pointed one out!  For some reason, this bug appears to have a symbiotic relationship with a grasshopper, as I have only found it where I have also found grasshopper nests – a bunch of ‘glued together’ twigs which house an interesting-looking larvae/caterpillar.  The nest hangs  from a twig by a thread but the larvae/caterpillar can actually move its whole ‘house’ from one twig to the next.

  

Another exciting find was Pseudocreabotra Wahlberg – a type of Praying Mantis.  Pink, brown and green with a prominent circular eye-like marking on each forewing, it pretends to be a flower and ambushes visiting insects, whilst its eyespot scares off attackers.

             

Praying Mantis come in various shapes and colours and the female has the macabre habit of biting off her partner’s head after mating.  Certain Muslims believe they point the way to Mecca, Catholics endow them with pious character, whilst some civilisations regard them as bad luck and others as good, and in China they are ground up and eaten as a cure for impotence!!
They also make a tasty bird breakfast!:



This fluorescent green beetle is a member of the Scarabaeidae family and is very common on a mauve flowering bush that grows all over the island.  It has a marvellous thorax that looks just like a red wine gum. 

I thought I was seeing things when this miniature flying saucer flashed past me – it turned out to be a Basipta Stolida or Green Tortoise Beetle – metallic green with translucent wings, about the size of my little fingernail.

Spiders – eek! – not my favourite insect.  Though I say it myself, I displayed remarkable control when this landed on my knee out of a thatched roof one day!!  Having swiftly flicked it into the nearest flowerbed, it was ‘quick, grab the camera’!  A glossy orange body and glossy black legs, it reminded me of a kids plastic toy from some horror series.

And how about this one – a gold and red star!    

 

As for this little guy – I almost trod on him.  I’m so glad I saw him in time.
 He thoroughly enjoyed sharing my avocado with me!  

 

Changing colours again – the baby is red and black only, adolescent – red and yellow and black, adult – yellow and black!  I wish I knew why!

And then there are dragonflies, caterpillars, butterflies, hawkmoths, ants, wasps,bees........insects in all shapes and sizes – and they’re all around you!  Next time you go for a walk, look closely – you will be amazed at what you find – I was!