12 June 2017

Insects

Fairyfly
Sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet seat in our bathroom, I look down on the vinyl flooring and notice a tiny red spider making its way across the room. It is as big as half a grain of granulated sugar. It seems to know what it is doing, so purposeful and focused is its journey.

I got to thinking about insects and spiders.

Did you know that there an estimated ten quintillion insects on our planet? That's 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 of them. But please do not forget spiders. There are lots of  them too - an estimated  21,000,000,000,000,000 or 21 quadrillion. These numbers are mind boggling. There are an estimated 950,000 species of insects on our planet and 40,000 species of spider - at least that is what my googling told me but to tell you the truth I suspect that there's a lot of guesswork in these numbers. After all, many thousands of species remain to be identified.
Giant weta
Size-wise, I have discovered that the smallest known insect is a fairyfly. Often they float around unnoticed by human beings as they are as small as this comma> , . In contrast the biggest known insect in the world is the giant weta. This formidable but rare creature can be found in parts of New Zealand. When fully grown it will measure four inches from tip to toe and can weigh almost three ounces. But the giant weta is quite small compared with the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider of South America that can measure twelve inches across and as the name suggests has the ability to trap and eat unsuspecting birds.
Goliath Bird-eating Spider
Where ever the land isn't permanently covered with ice and snow there are insects and spiders. They graft away as they have done for millions of years, surviving, reproducing, defending their territories, communicating with each other and disposing of enemies. Every species is fascinating and each has its own story to tell. There are so many of them you could say that Planet Earth belongs to them. Humans are recently arrived interlopers, gaining a foothold in a world of creepy crawlies and flying insects.

I have never understood why many humans are so enthusiastic about killing insects and spiders.  The vast majority of them cause us no harm whatsoever and many are beneficial to us. Of course mosquitoes are little bastards and it would be amazing if we could wipe them from the face of the planet - they have caused so much misery - but perhaps we should remember that even they were here first, long before we ascended from the apes.

37 comments:

  1. I was just going to say "They rule the world" when I read that you wrote "you could say that Planet Earth belongs to them". Indeed it does, but we (as a species, not individually) still think it is all there for our own benefit, and ours alone.

    I don't mind insects and spiders outdoors where they should be. I just am not keen on them in my flat. If possible, I do not kill them, just show them the way out (so to speak) or catch spiders etc. with a glass and postcard and throw them out of the window.
    But I must admit I am rather glad we do not have the giant spiders and insects in my area. The size of some of the hunting spiders here is enough for me to give me goosebumps.

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    1. I am glad to learn that your instinct is to remove spiders and insects humanely from your luxury apartment. I read that a family of Goliath bird-eating spiders are on the loose in Ludwigsburg. Don't have nightmares Meike!

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  2. Eww! My face may well stay screwed up for the rest of the night.
    Yes, we do take ooey things outside where they belong, but still... eww!

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    1. The "ooey things" may feel the same way about you Rozzie!

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  3. All I can say is thank goodness I didn't look at this post last night before I went to bed!

    I sometimes sit on the toilet and see weeny (no pun intended)spiders making their way purposefully across the tiles.

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    1. Why not re-read this post before bedtime tonight Mrs Weaver? I forgot to mention the very rare Bellerby woodlouse which can grow to the size of a child's fist. They live in vast colonies below ground somewhere in North Yorkshire.

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  4. I squished a spider this morning.... as I was eating my breakfast he crawled across the table. I have a primeval fear of spiders. Absolutely no logic to it, but I have to kill them if I see one. Absolutely cannot share a room with them. My other pet hate (not that they are pets) is stag beetles. We get a lot of them flying round here at dusk in May and June. They are e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s. There's no way I would be brave enough to kill them,so I have to avoid going out at dusk! They do say insects will inherit the earth. I don't disbelieve it.

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    1. Oh you cruel beast ADDY! That spider you killed had friends and relations. What harm was he doing? I hope you have given him a Christian burial. By the way, how did you know the spider was male? Did you get your magnifying glass out or did he just appear tp walk with a manly swagger?

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    2. It was the beard and Old Spice after shave that gave it away. He got an eco burial - rolled up in a bit of kitchen towel!

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    3. Your daughter needs to start buying kitchen roll right away, ready for the fateful day on which she has to say goodbye to her mummy! (Geddit?)

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  5. Sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet seat in our bathroom, I look down at the tiles and wonder if anybody but me knows how to change the toilet roll

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    1. Sometimes when I am sitting on the toilet seat in our bathroom I look down at the vinyl flooring and think perhaps we should get new vinyl flooring.

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  6. Spiders don't bother me, which is quite obvious, I guess, by the amount of cobwebs around this cabin!!! I'm in a no-win battle with the spiders. I'm on the "no-win" side! I waved the white flag and threw in the towel ages ago.

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    1. Do you have any poisonous spiders in your vicinity Lee? Over here in England we learn that Australia is surrounded by man-eating sharks and poisonous jellyfish, its wetlands are rivers are filled with hungry crocodiles while its homes are invaded daily by deadly spiders and snakes. Sounds like a nice place.

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    2. Don't believe everything you read, Yorkie.

      Australia is a wonderful place; a beautiful country. I would not like to live anywhere else.

      There are more venomous humans callously running around countries in our world creating havoc, killing their fellow humans than there are sharks, spiders, insects, jellyfish or crocodiles, killing humans.

      Don't you agree?

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    3. I agree that you must be employed by the Australian Tourism Authority!

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    4. More human deaths are caused by humans killing humans than all the creatures mentioned above combined...but, obviously Yorkie,you don't agree.

      Through your greater knowledge, I've just now discovered I live in the most dangerous country in the world.

      It's amazing what one learns through blogging. :)

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  7. Really incredible numbers if you really sit down to think about it. That many humans in the world would be a nightmare. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's already a nightmare with 7 billion humans Mr B!

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  8. Where I grew up (in Mansfield, Texas, as you may recall), there were tarantulas and scorpions in abundance. We learn d to turn our drinking glasses upside down in the cupboards after a neighbor found a scorpion in one. After that sort of childhood, what are a few beautiful web-building garden spiders? I leave them alone and, miraculously, they leave me alone. They eat insects, I'm told, and apparently I don't look like one yet.

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    1. I beg to differ Mr Brague. You are the spiiting image of a praying mantis.

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  9. Not too keen on insects and bugs inside the house although I do try and evict them humanely wherever possible. I once came face to face with a Praying Mantis in the shower, not sure who was the most surprised.

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    1. Was the praying mantis a fellow from Mansfield Texas called Robert Brague? See above.

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  10. Considering how much effort humanity puts into killing insects and spiders, I find it incredibly encouraging that they're doing as well as they are! I've never heard of a fairyfly, but I've heard of a weta, and I hope I never meet one.

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    1. It is rumoured that London Zoo once released dozens of giant wetas on Hampstead Heath where they have been multiplying merrily for years. I am surprised that you haven't encountered them when walking with Olga.

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  11. There are also many species of mosquitoes and many of them do not bother us. so suck it up and let the mosquito do its thing!

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    1. There an estimated 3000 species of mosquito and the most venomous of all is the Red mosquito.

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  12. There are spiders here that can cause your flesh to rot after one bite....the infamous Brown Recluse. It's an unassuming slight of build spider, that prefers to live in baseboards and darkened places, but if you are unlucky enough to get bitten, it's weeks of recovery ahead for you.
    I kill the buggers.
    ~Jo

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    1. Come back to England Jo! We don't have any spiders like that!

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  13. Spiders don't bother me, but as Brit just said, Brown Recluse spiders can really cause harm. I can't stand roaches...if one shows up in my house it's dead. Sorry.

    The insects I like are fireflies. We've been seeing lots of them this summer!

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    1. Don't say sorry to me Jennifer! Say sorry to the cockroaches!

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  14. I try to usher all bugs outside but a good number live in the house permanently, I'm afraid. I hate to dust the ceilings and the spiders set up housekeeping there, knowing full well I am lazy! I just saw that weta on a news feed somewhere and couldn't get over the size of it.

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    1. Christ almighty! You need in a live-in maid Jenny. I have heard that you can order them cheaply on the internet.

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  15. I try never to kill a spider and have a 'spider hoover' for removing them from the ceiling so that I can eject them from the house. My caveat to that is poisonous spiders in Australia and the occasional one in NZ. I was once about to go to sleep in Tauranga when I saw a Weta a few feet from my head. Now these are harmless rather beautiful creatures but nevertheless I had to get someone to remove it before I would consider sleep.

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    1. Perhaps you should have brought a couple of giant weta back to Lewis just like some idiot did with hedgehogs.

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  16. Those oittle red spiders used to be common on the pavements of my childhood.....i remember them when i walked home to my grans house on hot summer's afternoons

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    1. Were you wearing a red cape with a hood and carrying a basket?

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