'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


Ah Autumn!
In autumn a woman's thoughts turn lightly to ... snuggling up with a good book .... no

Autumn, autumn, how do I love thee, let me count the ways ... Leaves everywhere, nip in the air, gutters need cleaning out .... nah.

Tis autumn, and the slithy toves did gyre and .... no.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Vagrant Spider (Uliodon albopuntatus)

Well, everyone at the party was morbidly fascinated to see the large male New Zealand vagrant spider  that came into the house last night, and, became suddenly pleased to just be putting up with mozzies outside, instead of this inside.  
I think this is a male, as his body is relatively slim and his legs are long. He spanned about 5 cm. I love his orangey pink pedipalps. He probably came inside looking for a mate as this is a common behaviour in Autumn.  He uses his palps to taste and smell, and also, through a special bulb that develops on the palps, to transfer sperm to the female during mating.

You can see his orange pedipalps clearly here.

A good image to show some of his eyes.  I think I counted eight altogether.

Vagrant Spider

       Here's a lovely male Vagrant Spider that came inside tonight.  He is about 6cm across. We have been having a BBQ party to say farewell to my son James and his lovely German girlfriend Silke, and the doors were open so I guess he thought he would pop inside and check out the place.
They are nocturnal, not well studied, and man, can they run fast!  This one pattered audibly across the carpet before I cornered him and got him into a jar.  I will take some more photos and let him go down the bank of the estate.

See the salmon-pink palp… I thought it was a bit of debris on the carpet at first, until I looked them up. In twenty-two years here, it's the first one I've seen.

Some people keep them as pets, and I can certainly see the appeal.

Loads more news to share.  See you tomorrow.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Brown Mantis, Green Mantis.

About the time I left home and went to University, 1978, New Zealand was  I N V A D E D .
Before then, if I saw a praying mantis, those pumas of the insect world, those bold, confident and king predators, it was certain to be the New Zealand species: bright green, with a peacock feather-coloured eyespot on each forearm.
Then from somewhere, the South African mantis began to take over. Brown or green, with a fluffy egg-case, but no bluey-yellow eyespots, the South African female mantis even wastes the time and energy of the NZ males, for she sends a more alluring scent than the rare NZ female.
Here are a couple of the now far more common invaders on James' pitcher plant. I can't remember the last time I saw a real NZ mantis. Pity the pitchers aren't bigger ...

Can you spot them? There's a brown one and a green one. 
Here they are closer ... 

More information here:  http://www.radiolive.co.nz/How-you-can-help-save-our-native-praying-mantis/tabid/432/articleID/21079/Default.aspx