Spring Invasions

A sudden rise in temperature in conjunction with a dry spell has kick-started the critter breeding season this year. The annual household invasion of stick insects, jumping spiders and wetas is off to a good start.

The discovery of a baby stick insect patrolling the towel rack in the shower this morning reminded me that it’s time to offer a few hints on managing the spring invasion of our wonderful fauna who foolishly abandon the world of flora for the indoora.

The tally this week is two small jumping spiders, two baby stick insects and a confused and stroppy weta.

In my view, the stick insect is our six-legged equivalent of the gooney bird. These critters do not have Athlon processors to help them deal with novel situations, and marshalling those six long legs seems to chew up a large amount of processor time. Even so, when they decide to move, they are dogged, and happily march on at a consistent pace for a destination which they have probably forgotten within a few milliseconds of having selected it.

The fact that they can’t sprint makes them easier to deal with, however. Their legs are fragile so there’s no point in trying to flick them off a towel or other surface if you want them to remain intact. The best solution is to dash outside (entertaining the neighbours at the same time if you were already in the shower) to find a piece of greenery. Nothing strongly flavoured, though. A small piece of fern or a segment of leafy shrub will do.

Once back inside, place the greenery in front of the stick insect and it will climb aboard. Not immediately, of course. There is always a period during which the graunching of gears is heard as the critter processes its options. Stick insects should come with an arrowed marking showing “this way forward” for those who are not familiar with them. But their behaviour helps, as few of them seem to possess a reverse gear. A moment’s observation should help resolve this dilemma.

An encouraging sign is their rocking from side-to-side on their cantilevers. This is the stick insect’s version of “I will, I won’t” as they go through the daisy-plucking routine. The greenery will be more attractive than the wall, fluffy towel or painted surface of the windowsill. But they are incapable of bolting, and their processors are quickly overloaded if you wave the greenery at them.

Simply plonk the cutting down and give them time to think about it. Once the distraction of movement has been removed, the stick insect will investigate the familiar green thing allowing you to carry them outside and get back to the ablution routine.

As for the spiders and flighty wetas, that might be a subject for another story.

Wild Land has been quiet for a week, while I’ve been waiting for a stick insect to climb aboard a piece of greenery. Just tricking. It’s been a tectonically quiet week, and other matters have been claiming my time. Researching Mulligan’s Avenue in Old Wellington, steamers on Wellington harbour in 1899 and the intriguingly-named Submarine Mining Corps of the early 1900s has been monopolising my time.

And Kim Hill doesn’t help. Listening to her first-class interviews with Germaine Greer and the Topp Twins on Radio New Zealand National this morning, was time well-spent.

3 Responses to “Spring Invasions”

  1. Chris says:

    I myself just tackled a lost and lonely bumblebee inside who decided that lights were his entertainment. Take one glass jar and coax him into it – suddenly he has invisible walls that he can’t get out of – yet miraculously when placed outside – he beats these invisible walls and off to freedom!

  2. Dorothy says:

    Wetas and Topp twins! What an exciting life you lead!

  3. Ken says:

    Ah yes, those bimbly-bees! At least the noise they make helps with finding them. They seem to be very busy this year, and gardeners in Tawa are getting a bit twitchy about the absence of honey bees. The smaller flowers of crops like tomatoes need the smaller honeybee to carry out pollination, so it might be a challenging gardening season.

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