High summer, and it has been some weeks since I last visited Kentle Wood. With the temperature at a pleasant 17-18 degrees I set off, with high hopes and a sweep net which, I noticed, was getting rather grubby.
I was waylaid by a small girl who wondered what the net was for. I explained that, contrary to the usual assumption that I was seeking to catch butterflies, my main quarry was 'ordinary' flies. Her mother cut in: ' Ooh, I can't be doing with them buzzy, whiny things.' I was rather annoyed, not because she butted in with an opinion which was not sought, but because she was likely to colour her daughter's attitude for years to come, if not for ever. A quick glance it my bookshelves later confirmed that I have over eighty books on these creatures, plus a hundred or so journals dealing broadly with this topic. Yet this is but a tiny fraction of what an expert like Peter Chandler or Alan Stubbs must hold - and every year dozens, if not hundreds, of new species are described. Insects and other invertebrates are responsible for pollination, diseases, decomposition, stings and bites and a huge range of other activities. They are food for bats and other small mammals, birds, fish, lizards and amphibians and, to an increasing extent, us. They are even used medicinally with, for example, Lyssa vesicatoria - known as 'Spanish Fly' - used for certain skin complaints. (Incidentally it is not a fly but a beetle, and has no known aphrodisiac properties.) And as for cockroach 'milk' - who knows? Quite simply, the world as we know it would not exists without these 'buzzy, whiny things'. At least the woman had taken her daughter walking in the countryside. I should be grateful for that.
Anyway, undeterred by her acerbic comment, I pressed on. Rowan trees were heavy with nearly-ripe fruit and will attract many creatures over the next few weeks.
Rowans, Sorbus aucuparia, are now a fine site in
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 10 August, 2016
Blackberries are developing well and will be important to a range of animals
as they seek to put on fat for the winter. Kentle Wood, 10 August, 2016