Insects on the telly

It was a Wednesday evening in June and the insects of Warwick Gardens were all a-fluster. It was the day they were going to be on BBC Springwatch. They were huddled around a window on a house on Lyndhurst Grove peering through the glass at the television.

And then it started. They watched in anticipation as they were taken on a whirlwind tour of Norfolk, northern Scotland and Northern Ireland. They ooo’d and aaah’d at the glorious habitats in these far flung locations and realised they’d never even seen the sea before. They laughed at the shelducks waddling out of a tree, booed at the hatching of grey wagtails, and the caterpillars celebrated the decline of the blue tits! They learnt about tracking pine martins (which they thought looked like the local foxes) and marvelled at otters. And they were staggered by the sheer amount of sea birds on cliffs and gaped in awe at the guillemots that looked like badly drawn penguins.

And then they were on. Iolo Williams introduced Penny Metal and the insects chirped in delight as they saw their friends on national television. They cheered when they saw the scarce fungus weevil, who they thought had left the park years ago, emerging from lockdown. They saw their park from above, shot via a drone, and those who couldn’t fly finally saw where they actually lived – the dragonflies were surprised that anything man-made could fly that high.

As usual the common green shield bugs were having sex, and the more modest gorse shield bugs covered their faces in embarrassment at the behaviour of the local chavs. Local superstar Myopa, already a Twitter celebrity who had previously appeared in a blog, in a book and in Time Out magazine, also made an appearance and now has primetime television to add to her CV.

And then the film finished and the insects were so excited to see Michaela Strachan holding the book they all starred in and she loved it! As she flipped through the pages they all saw themselves, and they couldn’t believe someone so well known liked them and was telling other people to look at them too. And they did! Ever since, they have been peered at and prodded and photographed by every passerby who has been looking in the bushes at Warwick Gardens.

To watch the episode: BBC Springwatch

To fly or not to fly

Greenbottle – Lucilia caesar

The flies of Warwick Gardens are really perplexed by the latest government rules for flying. On the one hand their need to fly relates to work (pollinating and cleaning) but it seems they can’t fly off to meet friends in another part of the park. There is a red, amber and green traffic light system in place which offers a confusing list of where you are allowed to fly or not to fly.

It means the greenbottles in Poo Corner need to sanitise their feet of dog shit and get tested before they can go to the Log Quarter, but they also need to take a test to fly a few metres to the Railway Quarter despite the fact that part of the park is also full of dog shit. Even if they wanted to fly to the Log Quarter they will have to self-isolate on a leaf for 10 days, by which time their life-span will probably be over. The Football Quarter is an amber destination where you can only go ‘for some pressing family or urgent business reason’ but you will need to take two tests and quarantine, and most flies can’t be bothered as they know they will be eaten if they sit around in the same place for too long.

Marmalade hoverfly – Episyrphus balteatus

The hoverflies can fly to Greendale, which is on the green list, but not Peckham Rye Park (red list). They can’t visit red-listed Burgess Park, but Hyde Park, a destination completely out of reach to the average Peckham fly, is on the green list. And a trip to Goose Green (green list) is hardly worth it as there are no flowers there. They are rightfully anxious as the economy depends on them for pollination, and having been furloughed all last year are in danger of dying out.

Common orange legionnaire – Beris vallata

Meanwhile the soldier flies are being mobilised to survey the swathes of flies returning from amber parks, with the Home Secretary threatening ‘a knock on the door to check they’re all obeying the rules. But it might take a while as the soldier flies have yet to emerge, once again showing how incompetent this Government really is.