Of course, I saved the best until last.
One day the children were excited to see a giant spider (I think a rain spider) wrestling with a large unidentified bug in the garden. The bug overcame the much larger spider and then dragged its quarry across the lawn and into the undergrowth.
It turns out this was the work of the ninja-like Spider Wasp that is more often seen scuttling about the ground hunting for prey, than it is in flight. I can barely overpower a rain spider, but this mega wasp has cunning and stealth (who would think to look for a rampant giant wasp on the ground?) enabling it to do just that. It’s not obvious wasp behaviour, so I’m very glad to now know otherwise as the Spider Wasp’s sting is supposed to be quite vicious. Not something you’d want step on, thankfully its neon orange markings make it helpfully visible.
It paralyses the spider with its sting and then hauls it off to its burrow to lay an egg on it. As with the Mud Dauber wasp the larvae hatches and eats the arachnid appetiser
The Builder, The Carpenter and The Ninja – that’s all for now on winged stinging insects. Choosing between the biters (spiders) and the stingers (wasps and bees), the stingers are slightly less intimidating. For starters they don’t tend to appear at night when I’m asleep and defenceless and The Builder and The Ninja are both effective spider deterrents.
My respect for all things scuttling, flying, stinging and burrowing here in South Africa is growing and my fear of them is decreasing the more I learn. I now know that a widow spider would rather play dead than bite me, that menacing Mud Dauber wasps are pretty harmless and that lurid Melville Grass Koppies (more about them some other time) are only poisonous to pets that make the mistake of eating them.
It’s just the bl**dy mozzies that keep biting – they are consistent in their torture. During a power cut at the height of summer, it was too hot to be under the (empty) duvet cover. BUT, I wanted to keep the empty duvet cover on to protect me from mozzies. Eventually I came up with a brilliant (but odd solution). I soaked a towel in the bath. Lay under the wet towel and then pulled the duvet cover over the top.