Minute Signs of Spring

Budding vegetation, longer days, the blessing of sunshine, swallows. These are the most visible signs of spring coming back, but much more is happening that may go unnoticed. And that’s because other creatures may not be as visible. Take this dancing swarm, for instance … all busy mating in the air. Some insects live only for the time necessary to reproduce.

And then you get these fellas too. The stink bugs. Now that’s a bit unfair; they don’t release their defensive odour unless they are threatened, and where it’s true that some feed on fruit and plants, others eat insects that are detrimental to crops, so they are welcome by farmers. This specimen was stretching its wings around my house and didn’t mind posing for me. I used to see many more years ago, especially during the warmest months. As autumn approached, they would fly into the house to seek warmth.

I admit it took me years to comfortably be around the millions of tiny beings that share the planet with us. Partly because I seem to be the equivalent of chocolate fondant to them. If they can take a bite, they will. ‘You must have good blood’ people suggest. That’s consoling as my skin swells and itches for days. I must say I look at them in a different way now. Beetles especially fascinate me; their structure, their iridescent colours, their unusual habits (like the dung beetles, building and fighting for their majestic ball of poo!). I caught the guy (or girl) below -not a dung beetle- during a hill walk. Busy busy.

Now that my understanding of them has grown, I miss them, and I’m sorry for a time when I used to be scared of these creatures. Which shows that one thing is absolutely true: you fear what you don’t know. With this I’m not saying that I’m going to pet the next insect I’ll see, but I will surely want to know more about it. And this, I guess, is my hope for the next generation; that they may be interested in what is not immediately visible, that they may wonder about all the beings that wake up when they go to sleep. After all, who knows what it feels to be a bug with the strongest of shields on your back, or an aphid on a gigantic rose, or a worm making the soil rich? The tiniest force in an immense universe.

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