Thursday, November 10, 2016

“The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.”

There's a quote I once read that goes something like this: "The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it". Which is my way of illustrating that 'blogging time' is not always as readily available as I would wish. Since I have found time to compile this update, shall we indulge? (By the way, I have updated both the Magnet and Wealden pages with November articles now. Links at the top of this homepage).

You may recall this from a recent post...

It was a short story about how this company were misusing an image of an invertebrate. Well, blow me down with a feather, and other expressions of amazement! No sooner had I settled on the thought that it was a 'one-off' than this was brought to my attention by Eagle-eye Cherry (obviously I have changed her name for fear of reprisals). Take a look please...

At first sight it seems quite innocuous? Yes, and probably is, but it was the word caterpillar that attracted my attention: this is not an image of a caterpillar, rather a larva. An easy enough mistake to make, but along with the headline text, it piqued my interest enough to read inside. It read: This little creature hosts a fungus that is the source of a compound called cordycepin, which could be part of a radically different way to treat the pain of arthritis. 

So far so good. I could believe that is a possibility. The name of this little creature then? "The Ghost Moth Caterpillar". Wait a little, itty-bitty minute, a what? This is not a ghost moth caterpillar, or the caterpillar of any other species of moth for that matter. It's a sawfly larva, quite distinctive. I wonder if these people do any form of research whatsoever.

Let's move on. Yes, let's move on to...yet another piece of piss-poor journalism (excuse my French). The local press are the offenders this time...

Somebody calling themselves SophieAM has put their name to this incredibly stupid writing. Did you write that headline yourself SophieAM? Perhaps your brilliant journalistic skills were more in evidence in the actual article? Maybe you were only trying to grab my attention with that leader headline? Okay, you did get my attention, although I fear for the wrong reasons, but still, tell me more...

"Millions of ladybirds carrying sexually transmitted diseases are making their way to Kent. Harlequin ladybirds are flying to Britain from Asia and North America due to the mild autumn winds, and they pose a threat to native ladybirds as they carry an STD called Laboulbeniales fungal disease".

I know it's said that sarcasm is the brain's natural defense against the less intelligent but....REALLY! Flying here from Asia and North America on mild autumn winds are they? According to Sophie, "Large numbers of ladybirds have already been spotted across Kent, including in Cranbrook, Tunbridge Wells and Thanet". Yes, and almost every other part of the country if you were to DO SOME RESEARCH! Let's try and get a different angle on this story from another newspaper, just to try and balance things a little. Here's how Kent Online reported the story...

Hmmm... I am not sure which is stranger, this reportage (actually, I am not sure I can use that word because it refers to 'factual' reporting doesn't it?), or the reporters name here of 'multimediadesk'? That must have been a mouthful for the vicar at the christening? So this lot think that harlequin ladybirds have 'black wings, rather than our common red'. Then go on to say: Is it some sort of mating season? In the same newspaper, someone calling herself Joanna Missis Shed said: "We have loads everywhere inside and most are black with 2 red dots". Nicely observed Missis Shed. 

Should we be concerned about this 'invasion' then? Will they cause us harm? Well, "they could congregate in a corner and go to sleep until spring". Worse still, 'Kent Live' point out "they can leave a nasty smell & leave stains on furniture". Like teenagers you mean?

The final word comes from The Independent newspaper. This is a 'national' and can be relied on to publish the real facts...can't they?

No seems to be the definitive answer. At least they don't think the ladybirds flew here, but were the result of a wet summer. Dangerous though, very dangerous! "they can be murder on the wallpaper". Oh yes, and "exude chemicals that could ruin your curtains". 

No mention of hibernation being the cause of so many ladybirds then. From the research I have done it also seems that the "Sexually transmitted disease" they are "riddled with" could well have been transmitted by our native 2-spot ladybirds. I did have a quick foray into the Cranbrook jungle to try and locate this 'explosion' of harlequin ladybirds. I found a few, maybe even a few more than most years but nothing exceptional...

A phone grab

A few recent finds, in all honesty, there is not too much about now at this late stage of the year. Still, here's what I did unearth...

Kleidocerys resedae 

Kleidocerys resedae 
The Birch Catkin Bug belongs to the Lygaeidae family and is commonly found on birch trees. I often see them late on in the year as the adults overwinter. About 4-5mm.  

Capsus ater
I was quite surprised to see this little mirid bug. It feeds low down in the grass and that's where I spotted this one. Don't think I have seen them past September before though. Around 5mm.

Issus coleoptratus (nymph)

An old favourite. Plenty of these tiny planthopper nymphs to be found, but as yet, and it is getting quite late now, I haven't seen an adult this year. These are interesting creatures as the nymphs have small gear-like structures on the base of each of their hind legs. These gears intermesh to keep the legs synchronised when the insect jumps. The don't actually fly. The nymphs then shed these gears before becoming adults. Quite why they no longer need them as adults I have yet to discover.

In local woodland I photographed this looper caterpillar on a fallen leaf. 

A tiny video now. This is a Red Admiral in my garden that I photographed in slow-motion as it was taking off. Detail isn't much but it's kinda fun...

The usual reminder about having to view these vids directly on the blog as they don't always show in the emailed version.

And just for a even slower version:

And I think that will suffice for this particular update...

I will leave you with this final thought: There are actually only two things we fear when we are born: loud noises and falling. Our fear of insects has been handed down through the generations and is also partly due to unfamiliarity, we just don't see many bugs enough to become familiar with them. As well as fear of insects in general (Entomophobia) there is Lepidopterophobia (fear of butterflies), Melissophobia (fear of bees) and of course, the one we all know, fear of spiders-Arachophobia. 

Hypnosis is said to help, and with that in mind, I have included subliminal hypnotic cues throughout this text to start you on the path to a cure. 

                                                 Or have I ? 

"I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it".


  1. hm.. I dont know how and why people are afraid of insects, but yes, I do fear something other than loud noise and falling.. that thing is 'journalist'. but well, you are right, this fear was not innate, its developed only through repeated experiences. On a positive note however, lately I have come to suspect that only effect journalist have on public is that of telling them what not to believe (which is, what is written by them)- people these days use their own brain instead of relying on journalists/analysts for facts/analysis.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree of course about folk being frightened of insects. As for journalists, I think you are partly right but perhaps they do seem to have powers, otherwise if we could make up our own minds about everything...there would be no need for newspapers?

    2. Of course, they still do have some power - absolutely no argument against that. But given how they have used that power - over decades- in my country at least - to spread misinformation, instil fear and hate and what not (because probably fear sells fast - be it against insects or people), people are finally catching up and that power has greatly reduced now (at least in case of people). plus given we can interact directly with internet and all kinds of social media, newspapers / news channels no longer have monopoly. Also, due to years of disuse, today, even non evil journalists are quite inefficient and clueless - as it looks to me.

      but yes, even as I celebrate defeat and erosion of powers of "journalists" in recent times, I celebrate that only as I see it clears the path of reemergence of journalists / reporters - describing whom wont need quotes around them. as even with reduced essentiality of them in better inter-connected world, civilisations cant achieve their full health without true journalists / in environment of distrust. i.e. journalists have to be readable, or, perish and clear path for those who can be readable.

    3. Wise words ;-) And..I shouldn't paint ALL journalists as bad, there is good and bad in everyone, as Stevie Wonder once sang. There is a saying here about journalists that goes: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story".


Please feel free to comment on my blog. I am always grateful for any feedback, good or bad. Commenting should be fast and easy. Just enter your comment in the box, then click on the drop-down box beside 'Comment as'. You can use your Google ID if you have one, or just choose 'Name/URL and enter your name (URL is not needed). You can also just choose anonymous, if you would rather not be identified.

Regards 'JJ'.

If you do experience any difficulties, you can contact me directly from this blog and I will try to help.