Don’t sweat the small stuff? That might apply to the little worries in life, but when it applies to the natural world, sweating the small stuff is something we all have to do.

We take for granted the bugs and bees that populate our world. Some we fear, some we hate and others we ignore. Consider the millions of critters bugs feed. Consider the work they do. I hate flies, but realise that without them, there would be a whole lot of rotting flesh not being consumed by their young. And without dung beetles, the fly population would got berserk as Australia found out to their cost. To read about that and how many different types of South African Dung beetles became the first major wave of emigrants to Oz (the people followed later), click here. This year, due to climate change and lack of habitat, the monarch butterfly population didn’t turn up in Mexico on time. Read that story here.

Without bugs we would be knee deep in dung and carcases and we would have very little food as insects are fantastic pollinators. We would also be overpopulated with undesirable insects, as they too have enemies in their own worlds. The more we spray insecticides, the more we mess up their perfect balance.

So don’t reach for the bug spray – get used to scooping and evicting bugs from your house. Cobwebs? They all have a season. If you can bear it, leave them until they are vacant and then apply the feather duster.

And now for my creative person share of the day: Barbara Kingsolver

I recommend all of her writing. However Prodigal Summer deals with the concepts of “pest” control (from spraying bug to hunting carnivores), natural selection and human impact on the environment. One of my favourite subplots describes the tempetuous relationship between two elderly neighbours who are at loggerheads over spraying. The old guy is stomping over to have a fight and suddenly discovers he can’t move his leg. He thinks he has had a stroke, and is panicking. The neighbour (a woman)comes across him staggering along and points out that he has a snapping turtle clamped to his trouser leg. Too brilliant. There are three different story threads following three groups of protagonists through one summer. By the end of the novel she has perfectly joined all the threads and woven them together.

The other “must read” is  Flight Behaviour “The novel is a heady exploration of climate change, along with media exploitation and political opportunism that lie at the root of what may be our most urgent modern dilemma.”

Kingsolver is a biologist turned author, so she has the knowledge and skills to make environmental issues compelling,  clear and entertaining.

For Christmas:

Spring cleaning for the New year:

  • bug spray
  • invasive alien plants

The picture? Drawn for a client a few year’s ago.

Advent Challenge 3 – Bugs, butterflies and all things beautiful
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3 thoughts on “Advent Challenge 3 – Bugs, butterflies and all things beautiful

  • December 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

    A few years back I was contacted by an International Preditor Bug breeding company to help them set up a ‘bug farm’ in SA. This was to cater to not only the SA market but also be the first bug farm in the southern hemisphere – a need for them to provide some bugs out of the normal northern hemisphere season due to tunnel farming etc.
    After EUR5m and three years fighting the Departments of Agriculture, Water and, and, and, they decided to go to Zambia and set up shop. Big win for Zambia and a huge loss for SA.

    • December 3, 2013 at 11:23 am

      What a shame! Bugs are so cool and endlessly fascinating.

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