Creepy Crawlies – Mother’s Day

It came as no surprise that, for Mother’s Day, I was gifted with some creepy crawlies. Insects are prized possessions in the world of my kids so, of course, they would be great gifts to others.  They caught three caterpillars at their friend’s house and were quite excited to present these creepy crawlies to me.  As far as bugs go, I was happy to receive caterpillars instead of mole crickets or preying mantis or giant snails!

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Nathan also made these candle holders with electric candles.  I saw similar candle holders, made from wood, in the States just before we left for PNG.  While I really liked them, luggage space was an issue, so we left the craft fair without them.  I was quite surprised when Nathan presented me the bamboo versions. I enjoy their beauty as they flicker in the evenings.  A matching bamboo vase came with them. I will fill it with the felt flowers I love to craft.

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Creepy Crawlies – Banana Spider

Banana spiders are found hanging around in all sorts of places.  This particular one was in a garden and I was by myself.  If the kids would have been with me, I would have gotten a picture with their hand near the silly thing.  Instead, I had to be the brave one and use my own hand.  I was probably a lot farther away from it than they would have been, but for all their interest in bugs, they are not fans of getting close to spiders either.

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Apparently, these things can be fried and eaten.  I’ll just trust those who’ve done it (Emma!) to believe that it’s possible and at this point my kids aren’t excited about the idea of tasting one either.  They’d rather play with the other live creepy crawlies that do not resemble spiders.  These are pretty fascinating to look at as long as we don’t accidentally walked into their web.

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Creepy Crawlies – Mole Cricket

“Quick!  Get a jar!  I found a mole cricket!” I heard my bug girl call from outside the kitchen.  Surely, this was a name she came up with on her own.  Bug boy was quick to respond to the call and the critter was soon tucked away inside the first available bug jar. (I think they must practice their response time).

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After inquiring about this new name, I was assured that in fact there really was a bug called a mole cricket.  They read it in a book.  A quick Google search showed this was indeed true and the one they had caught looked just like the pictures.

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The bug jar was soon filled with dirt and then the real fun of a mole cricket began.

“Mom!  Quick, come look at this!”  I’d walk over to see the dirt moving from one side to the other as it tunneled underground.  Occasionally it would tunnel along the side of the container so they could watch it go deeper.

A few days later it could no longer be found and the kids assumed it had died.  They went outside to dump out the dirt, but there it was, alive and well, buried far from the surface and away from curious little hands.

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Creepy Crawlies – Giant Moth

Just a few days after arriving here the Goossen family was well aware of our love of bugs.  They found this creature at their house, put him in a box and brought him over.  While trying to look at him and get a picture, he started fluttering around our house, finally landing on the wall.  Bug boy careful laid his hand next to it, to help give idea of its size.  After the photo op the kids let him go outside where he decided to rest on the screen outside the kitchen window for awhile before going on his way.

After a Google search, the best guess I have is that this is a tropical swallowtail moth.

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Creepy Crawlies – Beautiful Blue Butterfly

The best I can tell, this butterfly is a papilio ulysses or Blue Mountain Swallowtail.  The big boys and I were out for a walk and saw it flitting around the Thompson’s driveway, barely sitting still long enough for a picture.  I told it that resting for a moment so I could get a picture would be a lovely thing to do.  When it started to fly off, I let it know that there were still many flowers along the driveway it had not yet visited.  It briefly came back and then flew off in the other direction.  “Come back,” I called, but my boys informed me that it probably was gone for good this time.  They didn’t seem to think it strange to follow me up and down the driveway while talking to a butterfly.  But it may have seemed odd to the security guard sitting down the road . . .

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This was the best picture I could get of the very busy butterfly

Creepy Crawlies – Preying Mantis

It was their cousins that first got the kids interested in preying mantises.  Last summer the cousins brought one as a gift and we watched it for quite a long time.  It ended up being a female and laying an egg case.  That brought all kinds of excitement to the house!  After that, my bug boy found them all all over place, which was amazing.  They were little brown creatures sitting quietly in brown grass and he still spotted them.

This one he’s holding was found here in PNG.

Preying mantises are in abundant supply in PNG.  The heads seem to be smaller than the ones that the kids caught in the States and they like to randomly jump.  I may or may not have squealed when the little one below jumped at me while taking the picture.  And I may have made the baby cry.  It was just so surprising to see him jump at the camera.  So anyway . . .

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It was important for the cousins to see this spot on the leg of the mantis, especially since the oldest cousin is somewhat of a mantis expert.  Do you know what this spot means SW?

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And while I tried to get a side shot of this tiny one, he kept following the camera round, keeping a close eye on it.  I was waiting for it to jump at me too.

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Creepy Crawlies – Giant snails

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This one was found climbing the side of a building

Snails and slugs are a common nuisance of gardens in Oregon.  Nathan would set out bait and the next day we would marvel at the size of some that found their way into the bowls.

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It’s a little longer than her hand

I was trying to think of an adjective to describe the snails the kids have found here in PNG.  Huge? Giant?  Enormous? Jumbo?  Colossal? Monstrous?  All of the the above?  These guys are pretty impressive.  When Nathan gets the garden put in we’ll see if these adjectives could also apply to the destruction they bring.  Not to fear!  My kids will happily pluck them out of the garden.

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Our language teacher would bring her daughter to play while we studied

 

Creepy Crawlies – 3

The creatures that first captured the attention of the kids were geckos.  For all the giant bugs around, the geckos are surprisingly small.  And quick.  When being caught by predators (or kids) the tail falls off and squirms on its own for awhile.  At first this both fascinated and terrified the kids.

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This is an especially tiny little fellow

Usually we see them outside on the sides of buildings, but occasionally they’ve been spotted in the house.  The big boys have one that likes to crawl around their wall at night.  One morning Nathan went to grab the clothes he’d hung on a hook for the day and a little guy went skittering across his shirt and up the wall.  I really don’t mind geckos, but I have been shaking my clothes a bit now before picking them up.

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Gecko egg

When playing with the geckos in the house, it’s not uncommon for them to escape the grasp of little hands.  They quickly find their way under the couch or the stove or out the door.  To remedy this problem our oldest son made a leash backpack.  It worked for awhile, but the test gecko was able to start slipping out of his contraption.

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The handy dandy gecko leash

The other day our daughter caught one with a split tail at the end.  With all the handling the tail eventually fell off, so we’re hoping to be able to see if it will grow back as one tail or with another split tail.

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Two Tail the gecko

Remember the plastic insects the kids have been trying to trick us with?  One evening there was an unusual amount of giggling and carrying on.  On the off chance they had gotten a little too carried away with their pranks, I told the kids they were not allowed to use live animals in this little game.  Turns out I would have found a live gecko in my glasses case at bedtime.  At least it wouldn’t have been a cockroach!

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Creepy Crawlies – 2

IMG_2974Roaches

I do not have a picture of a real live cockroach because my first priority isn’t to find my phone when one  is skittering across the counter.  Especially after the egg box incident.  The one where the box of nine dozens eggs was crawling with literally dozens and dozens   . . . and yes dozens more roaches . . .  through the cartons . . . and onto the counters . . . and into the kitchen drawers.  This apparently is not the norm for egg boxes, but I will be skeptical of bringing them into the house for some time to come. (We have since bought another egg box that was safely inspected on the back porch with a total of zero roaches inside).

The toys in the picture are the ones the kids keep trying to trick us with . . . on the counter . . . in the bed . . . they may end up in the trash soon. 🙂

This is a poem from The Llama Who Had No Pajama  by Mary Ann Hoberman about roaches.  It seemed fitting.

COCKROACH

Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is kind?

Praise or admiration is impossible to find.

No one seems to care for it or welcome its approaches.

Everyone steers clear of it except for other roaches.

If people treated me that way, I know that I should mind.

Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is kind?

 

Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach with is nice?

It must have done a favor for somebody once or twice.

No one will speak up for it in friendly conversations.

Everyone cold-shoulders it except for its relations.

Whenever it is mentioned, people’s faces turn to ice.

Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is nice?

 

Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is good?

I can’t avoid the feeling that it’s quite misunderstood,

But all that I can tell you is it does keep very quiet,

And if you’ve got some bedbugs, it will add them to its diet.

I’d like to be more positive; I really wish I could.

Is there nothing to be said about the cockroach which is good?

Creepy Crawlies – 1

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Nathan and I were sitting in the kitchen with Pastor Simon busy with language lessons when our bug boy burst through the door.

“Mom!  You have to come help me with this beetle!”  I shushed him and told him I’d help him when the lesson was done.  He not so patiently waited until the end and I stepped out on the back porch of the house we were staying in for the week in Timil Waghi.

“This,”  I said after seeing the size of the beetle he wanted help with, “is a job for your dad.”

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We think it’s a rhino beetle and it took some effort for Nathan to get it down.  After hissing at the stick for awhile, it finally grabbed the pesky thing that was harassing it with it’s enormous jaws and Nathan was able to pull it off that way.  This one did not go into a jar, but stayed outside on the porch.

Stay tuned for the next creepy crawly installment.