Wednesday 1 April 2020


Hold your hand out in front of you, at arm's length, fingers pointing upwards. Gradually move it towards you. At a certain point, it will become fuzzy and out of focus, thus proving that you really cannot see what is right in front of you. The same is true of the hinterland, the area beyond what is visible, or known. A description, which for most people, describes a semicircle, of 500 yards or so, around their front gate. The area that we pass through every day and seldom give a second glance. So, this is the project for the week and it's the perfect time to do it. You don't have to use the car and nobody is going to look over your shoulder and ask what you are doing. They may think you a little eccentric but, at the moment, eccentricity is the new normal. Think of it as a public service: you're something to watch on a dull day, while staring out of the window, at nothing in particular.

White Mustard, Sinapis alba

I am lucky with my hinterland, as it contains olive groves and a small, seasonal stream. Even so, it is an area which I've tended to neglect over recent years, for the simple reason that it has become too familiar. As I needed some White Mustard, Sinapis alba, yesterday, for a little project involving snails, I revisited the banks of the little stream. Here, I knew that white mustard grew, in some profusion. I took my camera with me, to see how many different types [orders] of creepy-crawlies I could find.

HEMIPTERA Calocoris nemoralis

The HEMIPTERA, or True Bugs [as opposed to the general term 'bugs' which covers all creepy-crawlies, especially in American English], were represented by two or three different species of Mirid Bug, such as this Calocoris nemoralis of the Miridae family.

COLEOPTERA Oxythyrea cinctella
The COLEOPTERA, or Beetles, came in the form of this Middle Eastern Flower Scarab, Oxythyrea cinctella of the Scarabaeidae family, as well as a good number of 7-spot ladybirds, Coccinella semipunctata of the Coccinellidae family.

LEPIDOPTERA Acontia lucida

The LEPIDOPTERA, or Butterflies and Moths were much in evidence with Small White, Pieris rapae, Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus, and Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria, butterflies, all flitting about in the sunshine. The only one to sit still and be photographed was this Pale Shoulder Moth, Acontia lucida, of the Noctuidae family.

HYMENOPTERA Apis melifera
The HYMENOPTERA, or Bees, Ants and Wasps, provided a nice, buzzy, Spring soundtrack as the Western Honey Bees, Apis melifera, of the Apidae family, went about their business of collecting pollen with which to make honey. In the process of which, they inevitably transfer pollen from flower to flower and ensure a good harvest for next year.

ORTHOPTERA Acrididae family

The ORTHOPTERA, or Grasshoppers and Crickets, were busy jumping about and these two landed on the same rock at the same time. One, I think, is a Chorthippus species and the other, a Band-winged Grasshopper, both of the Acrididae family.

All the above are insects [having six legs], but there was one arachnid [having eight legs], bustling about in the undergrowth: this lovely Harvestman. Most people think that this is a type of spider but it isn't. Harvestmen form the order OPILIONES and, despite their size, are totally harmless. Their body shape is different to a spider and they only have one pair of eyes, whereas spiders have three or four pairs. This one, investigating my arm, is a member of the Phalangiidae family.

OPILIONES Phalangiidae family

I nearly forgot the White Mustard, which I came out to pick in the first place. I haven't been able to photograph any birds today as my bird camera is en route to Cumbria with about a third of my furniture. I, of course, am locked down, the same as everybody else. However, I can tell you that there are Chaffinches, Great Tits, Sardinian Warblers, Greenfinches, Blackbirds and Hooded Crows all heralding the arrival of Spring. Oh, and I also saw a little mouse in the garden the other day, so the small, furry mammals are about too.

Until next time, stay safe, avoid people and enjoy nature. I wish you all well, wherever you may be.

The Quick Guide To Creepy-Crawlies not only gives pictures and easy descriptions of twentytwo insect orders (in both their adult and juvenile states), but also pages of molluscs, myriapods, isopods, arachnids and all the other creepy-crawlies that you are likely to find in your hinterland. Suitable for adults and children alike, I am putting it on special offer (a third off, except in the USA where a minimum price applies) until the end of April. So, order a copy, take your camera or phone with you, photograph what you find, and identify them when the book arrives. Congratulations! You've just got yourself a new hobby!

Was £14.99     $17.31    16.14

Now £10.00    $16.48    €11.52

Crete Nature Catch-up

The Eggs of Saramova
A science fiction novella for those who don't like science fiction. A fast-paced thriller that is, literally, out of this world (and it starts right here in Crete).
All you need to know to identify any type of insect, spider, worm or snail very simply and find out more about it.
A light-hearted look at life through the eyes of the fairer sex.
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Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map

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