I love autumn in New Zealand. The early days of autumn are still quite hot but the evenings are noticeably cooler, making sleeping more comfortable. Our daily walks move from the cool track in the riverside bush to footpaths around town. I can even wear shirts with sleeves!
It’s also harvest time and for us that means guavas, feijoas, oranges and chilies from our orchard and garden. Locally, roadside stalls and the farmer’s market provide passion fruit, kiwifruit, avocados, various melons and grapes plus as many green vegetables as you can eat. I’ve made as many jams, chutneys and sauces as we can use so the remnants are given away or traded with friends who have their own overabundance of produce.
Unfortunately, it is also the time for bugs. Wasps, crickets, praying mantis and flies appear everywhere. What is different for us this year is that Meg is taking an entomology paper and has put in a request for as many bugs as we can find, capture and freeze. She has to pin them to display on a board, identify them and write up a detailed description that provides evidence to support their identification.
There are not as many bugs in urban Auckland as there are here in rural Kerikeri. So far we’ve collected a stick insect, praying mantis, cicadas, several types of wasps and beetles, an earwig, two monarch butterflies and what I think is a mayfly. I have to admit I’m getting pretty good at catching bugs with little plastic containers. I’ve taken to carrying the containers with me everywhere.
The other day I was out to pick feijoas when I heard one cicada chirping. We thought their season was well over so I was pretty excited to think there was one to be found. I spotted it flying from one tree to another, crept up on the branch and slammed both ends of the container around it on the feijoa branch. On the way back to the house to put it in the freezer I heard another one. I grabbed a second container and tracked this one down to a pohutakawa tree but it was on such a high branch I had to pull the branch down with one hand and catch it with my other. It was embarrassing how excited and proud I was to send Meg a photo of my prizes. The things we do for our kids.
My dear friend, Barb, has also caught the bug (hee, hee). She’s captured two bumble bees and a few other critters we haven’t yet identified but they’re safe in the freezer for Meg’s expertise. It has changed our perspective on the buggy season for the positive.
Now if only we could catch a weta…