These days when I empty the skimmer basket of the swimming pool, my wail of anguish can be heard:
They’re lovely creatures and I hate to find them drowned.
They’re also frustrating because if you rescue one, it seems to do its utmost to jump back in the water.
This insect, hidden in a crack of the front door, is actually a grasshopper, distinguishable by its short antennae.
I was in the pool for an afternoon swim when I became aware of the swallows’ twitter becoming very loud.
Four of them were swirling round and coming in low over the water.
Mostly they just broke the surface with their wing tips, but one darker-coloured swallow dipped its breast and actually got quite wet each time. I was on standby for a rescue.
After a few fly-bies, they had a brief rest on the nearby electricity cables before starting round again.
Eventually they went swooping away over the valley.
I’d noticed there were fewer insects landing in the pool – this must be the reason!
As I was coming in the back door from the garden, I noticed this fine creature on the door frame.
It had woven a web across the gap which forms on the hinge side when the door is open.
I shut the door without thinking, then suddenly thought: ‘Oh no, I wonder if I’ve squashed it?’ But I hadn’t. When I opened the door again, there it was.
It must have studied the profile of the door and its frame, and worked out a place where it can sit safely.
Its web, I noticed, didn’t tear or move out of position: it seems to have been woven with multiple strands going in the same direction so as to make it effectively elastic. What’s more, it’s perfectly positioned to catch the insects drifting in and out of the house.
The spider is certainly doing well from this strategy, if its size is anything to go by.
I hate admitting defeat, but I was prepared to. I just couldn’t identify these insects.
I felt sure they must be common because they’re everywhere at the moment, crawling on the windowsills and the stairs, getting caught in cobwebs.
I don’t mean there are huge numbers; it’s more that every insect around seems to be one of them.
I didn’t have much to go on, but I had a look on the internet at a few types of insect that I thought were similar:
- soldier beetles
- tiger beetles
- oil beetles
- blister beetles
and a few more with relevant plant connections:
- oak beetles
- vine weevils
and there was no match anywhere.
Then I thought I’d pick one up and put it on my desk to give me inspiration. Even gently wrapped in a tissue, it immediately gave off a pungent, insecty smell, which gave me an idea.
Maybe it was a sort of stink bug? Stink bugs are also called shield bugs because they’re the shape of a shield, which is what had put me off the scent (excuse the pun).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the notion of a stink finally led me to the Western Conifer Seed Bug.
Strange, because there are only a few conifers around. It seems they’ve come across from America and here, like there, are going into houses looking for somewhere to overwinter.
They’re quite harmless; just stinky if frightened.