Monday, January 26, 2015

Of Hobbits and things

On the symbiosis of Entomologists and Hobbits

It is a sad fact that by the time one becomes a formal entomologist (the “bug”-lovers qualification), one has lost three of the primary characteristics that enable the discovery of new and varied species of “bugs”.

Firstly and most assuredly you have grown a pair of legs that puts you way over the desired height for bug spotting. Many insects prefer the understory and can only be spotted by midgets or the properly trained primary school student.

Secondly, the enthusiasm (think about that word…Theos within) in that age group is unparalleled. They love to crawl around in vigorous undergrowth, and revel in mucky environments that would daunt a Vietnamese potbelly pig.

And thirdly they the have eyesight of a teenager spotting a hamburger across a cafeteria swimming in boiled broccoli.

The wise entomologist makes sure they team up with the super spotters of the kindergarten/primary school variety. Not to do so means missing out on a myriad of superb discoveries. One of my fourth graders in Madagascar once found an entirely new species of stick insect in a highland rainforest.

While walking towards my Prado in the parking lot the other day, my daughter Jemma spotted the long horned beetle shown in the picture, under the tow bar of the car, at a level that was entirely obscured from my field of vision. I am not beyond bribery and I still owe her an ice cream.

Hurrah for the hobbits!