Mini Beast Musings · 30 Days Wild 11
I’ve always been intrigued by the miniature world of creepy crawlies. Flies both fascinate me and make me cringe simultaneously, I find spider eyes endearing, beetles often leave me in awe of their beauty, and I can’t see a grasshopper without smiling. As a child I would tell anyone who listened that we had an arachnid called Harry (of course) living in our kitchen and would spend hours attempting to collect pet ladybirds in a bowl filled with grass, always disappointed when they inevitably flew away.
There’s a whole world of wonder hidden in plain sight, so small that we often completely ignore it. Just a few minutes spent looking in a hedgerow or at the end of your garden can leave you discovering an extraordinary amount of things you’d likely never know existed if you didn’t bother to look.
Nobody knows just how many insect species there are on earth, but estimates are anywhere between 2-10 million species (some even higher), with only about a million of those having been catalogued. That’s INSANE! Not only that, insects are the most diverse of all groups of animals. Then there’s the other creepy crawlies, like spiders, that contrary to many people’s beliefs don’t actually fall into the insect category at all.
“What makes things baffling is their degree of complexity,
not their sheer size; a star is simpler than an insect.”
~ Martin Rees, Scientific American, 1999.
It’s a crazy miniature world out there, which as it turns out, isn’t always that miniature after all. Today online I discovered The Giant Wētā, an insect on the other side of the world in New Zealand. Females can weigh in heavier than a house sparrow, at up to 35 grams, though most don’t get that size and you can even see a video of one facing off against a cat. Thanks to an article on MetalFloss, I discovered that “the name weta comes from the Maori word wetapunga, or “god of ugly things”” whilst “the genus name, deinacrida, means “terrible grasshopper.”” All of which I find strangely endearing.
I spent a relaxing lazy Sunday watching all kinds of fascinating creatures in my garden and I didn’t even have to get out of my pyjamas (judge me all you like). Lost in thought I watched as a tiny spider spun a web, battling against blustery wind yet creating something so intricate and delicate.
Reconnecting with nature doesn’t always have to mean long hikes, climbing mountains, or walking barefoot through rainforests. There’s so much to be discovered in even the most urban of environments, and you definitely don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to find strange and unusual beasties. Often, you don’t even have to leave the house (sorry). As I write this, there’s a gorgeous micro moth flittering around my bedroom, shimmering silver scales reflecting the light like stardust.
The thing I love most about macro photography is discovering things I don’t otherwise notice. It’s the same joy I got as a child, placing anything and everything under a treasured toy microscope. It can be terrifying, grotesque, and certainly makes my skin crawl from time to time (just look at the hairs on that fly). It can also be awe-inspiring and incredibly beautiful. Often, it’s both. It’s a window into a magical alien world full of wonders yet to be discovered, and it’s right on our doorstep yet we rarely give it a second thought.