Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas beetles

I was always aware that this continent contained more than its fair share of bugs, spiders and venomous reptiles, but living outdoors certainly confirms that statistic in an unpleasant and alarming fashion.

The local newspaper carried a headline story this week about a local woman bitten on the foot by a brown snake while she was planting broccoli. If you ever needed an excuse not to plant brassicas I cannot think of a better one.

She lived close enough to a hospital to survive the ordeal, and was reported to be rather cheery about the whole experience, although she did comment that in future she would always wear sturdier boots while gardening. Very stoical these Aussies- I am sure those of us from the northern hemisphere would have sworn never again to source brassicas from anywhere outside Waitrose, sprayed the garden with a biological weapons strength defoliating agent, concreted it over and invested in thigh length chain mail garters.

Also, it seems somewhat lacking in imagination to name the second most venomous snake on the planet 'brown snake'. They could have tried a little harder-the 'run-like-hell-or-you-will-die brown snake' for example.

Certainly has made me more cautious in the garden, and I have ceased to stroll over to the veggie patch wearing only my thongs ( the footwear formerly known as 'flip flops', before you conjure up unpleasant images of me gardening in inadequate drawers ).

The wet weather seems to have stimulated some swarms/plagues of nightmare bugs, and the screen doors of the camper are an entomologist's paradise. As soon as night falls and the lights go on we are besieged by vile creatures, the current ones being large beetles.

They are big heavy things which ping off the van like bullets, and it hurts like Hell when one interacts at high speed with an unsuspecting cranium. They are however stunningly beautiful, glossy metallic gold on the dorsal surface, shiny purple underneath....the sort of paintwork which would cost you a few thousand extra on your VW. Apparently they are a sub order of the scarab beetle know rather festively as the Christmas beetle. They would make a stunning set of Christmas tree decorations.

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