Saturday, June 10, 2006

Water Beetles
I am not the only writer who finds these earnest little insects irrisistibly fascinating, for reasons best known to hereself (and she ain't gonna tell us because she is dead), the late, great Nancy Mitford called one of her volumes of anthology `The Water Beetle`, and I like to think that it is because, as children, she and her sisters
(including the future Lady Diana Moseley, and the poor doomed Unity), were as fascinated by these creatures as I was as a child. However, there is probably a far more prosaic explanation - there usually is.
When I was a boy, the ponds and ditches around Woolsery contained a dazzling range of these creatures, ranging from the tiny whirligig beetles, to the enormous Dytisticus marginalis, and it was one of my plans on aquiring a digital camera, to set up a range of pond tanks, so that I could study and photograph these tiny beasts at my leisure...
... but sadly, either I am looking back at the mid 1970s with more than usually rose-coloured spectacles, or something drastic has happened to the water beetle population around here, `cos they are singularly absent. However, today I caught three small black and gold beetles, (Platambus maculatus) I think, in a sluggish stream just past Huddisford. I look forward to continuing my acquaintance with this handsome insect...

A stream near Huddisford, about 100 yards from where we caught the water beetles


Blogger youcantryreachingme said...

Ah yes. A friend of mine works with all manner of crustacea and he loves hunting around for, and watching, water beetles.

Given how accessible they really are, and that I have preschool aged children, perhaps I should take up the habit?

In Australia, there is a volunteer organisation called Stream Watch which encourages groups of people (for example, primary school classes) to consistently monitor water conditions in local freshwater waterways. Tracking the water beetles is part of that; I think it's fantastic that young children can be encouraged to take an insightful look at the world around them like this, and know they are making a difference for the good of the environment.


6:01 PM  

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