Blogmas: Merry Bug-mas from Author Emma Read.
As autumn comes to a close and spider season is done, we might be ready to forget about mini-beasts and think more about Christmas feasts.
But as a bug lover (and author of Milton the Mighty) I’m here to share a few interesting facts about some of my favourite creepy-crawlies and wishing you all a happy holiday and bee-sons greetings. No bah! Hum-bugs I hope.
The Little Things That Matter
Making up 97 percent of all animal species on earth, invertebrates are, according to ecologist E. O. Wilson, “the little things that run the Earth.” Though small, their ecological importance is huge – we rely on invertebrates to pollinate flowering plants, consume pests, recycle and compost waste and turn over the soil. Without them our whole ecological system would rapidly collapse.
There are so many wonderful ‘little’ things we can do to help the environment in 2020, and with invertebrates in mind, perhaps you might consider a New Year’s resolution to love bugs a little bit more? Here’s a song to get you in the mood while you wait for Ant-a-Claus.
The Twelve Bugs of Christmas, by the Invertebrettes
12 Tansy beetles – These pretty beetles have iridescent elytra which the Victorians used to wear as jewellery. They are now on the endangered list
11 Furry bumblebees – Dumbledore was named for the Old English word for bumblebees!
10 Tortoiseshell butterflies – Also endangered, but on the increase thanks to greater awareness and public support
9 Leopard slugs – What’s to love about slugs? They are the great recyclers of the garden, disposing of decaying organic matter. They are also a favourite food of hedgehogs, which are in severe decline in the UK
8 Chirping cicadas – Although thriving in Europe, the cicada may already be extinct in the UK
7 Seven-spot ladybirds – Known colloquially as bishy-barny-bees and dowdy cows, ladybirds are often favourites in the insect world. Contrary to all the ladybird juice drunk by the spiders in Milton the Mighty, ladybird blood is actually toxic to most would-be predators
6 Ladybird spiders– Possibly even more beautiful than actual ladybirds, this spider was thought to be extinct for over seventy years. Rediscovered in the 1980s this species is now protected.
5 Yellow jacket wasps – Yes, they’re a pain at picnics, but wasps are actually one of our most important pollinators and pest controllers, particularly partial to aphids
4 Stag beetles – Their population is not known but they are considered endangered. Members of the public are encouraged to report any sightings to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species
3 Common centipedes – Another super pest controller and friend to the gardener, centipedes are one of the oldest animals on Earth, some have been found in fossils dating over 400 million years old
2 Painted lady butterflies, in a butterfly kit – this is a lovely way to encourage children to care for invertebrates and learn about the wonders of nature. Ladybird breeding kits are also available
1 And a false widow on the Christmas tree. Much maligned, the false widow is neither deadly, nor invading. They’ve been here since the nineteenth century and are super pest controllers. If you’re not convinced maybe Milton the Mighty might be able to help!
About the Author
Emma Read is the author of Milton the Mighty (Chicken House), which was one of The Times’s Best Children’s Books of 2019. MILTON is a story for younger readers about finding courage, good friends, and doing amazing things – even if you’re a spider the size of a raisin! Emma lives in Bath, and never sweeps up cobwebs. The sequel to Milton the Mighty, Milton the Megastar is available for pre-order here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/milton-the-megastar/emma-read/9781912626069