Just Bugging

Warm Summer days are great for lots of light, for al fresco dining, and evening strolls. We didn’t see the aurora last night but there was a bit of a sunset, not as red as Shane’s outfits.

Shane and a sunset

What there is also a lot more of on summer days is insects and other minibeasts. I have removed a few crane flies and spiders over the last few evenings as Shane complained. I have admired several colourful butterflies: white, orange tip, blue, yellow, tortoiseshell, but none settled. Recently I had a long look at a newly emerged caddis fly. At least that is what my research in my book tells me. I am guessing the crumpled shiny wings means it has only just emerged, not that it is deformed in some way.

Suspected caddis fly

I am sometimes afraid of insects or creepy crawlies, especially large ones, fast moving ones and stinging ones. I am interested in them though. On the walk to Braunston, though Shane was hurrying to the shop and post office, I was pausing at flowers and ladybirds. I exclaimed I had seen an unusual one, with black and white colouring, and stopped to photograph it. The beastie was fast moving but small so I wasn’t afraid but it was hard to snap. On closer inspection it didn’t look like a ladybird after all. My book was out again and I found it was a pied shield bug. It was confirmed not only by the matching patterning but the opener to its description, “Often mistaken for a ladybird”. I am not alone then.

Pied shield bug

This morning I was doing a poem from the prompt, “invent an animal and write about its habits diet and habitat”. I had found this a tricky topic to do as not that imaginative but had got round to inventing a worm like creature that could burrow through concrete. It didn’t rhyme but had some pseudo biological detail. Meanwhile Shane was outside having a bit of a clear out of one of the lockers. We have had a bit of an ant issue. It has reduced inside but increased outside. Shane was not wanted them crawling on him when driving or while dining al fresco. He was looking for their source.

I heard a yelp and wondered if he had slipped and went to see. No he hadn’t fallen in or hurt himself but had met a large spider. I thought he had been pretty brave last night when a medium spider was on him and I had to remove it from his shorts and get it out on to the towpath.

I went to see if I could deal with the spider which had been in the barbecue starter (never used by us) that had been left by the previous owner of the boat. I took it out on to the towpath and cautiously took the box apart – for those with arachnophobia, fear not, no spider photographs will be in this blog. Cobwebs were inside but no huge arachnids or little ones for that matter.

Shane was continuing to busy himself with sorting out the contents of the locker and in anticipation of meeting mini monsters he has made use of a birthday present from Anne and Richard. Originally intended for use down the weed hatch, we think, they had not yet been baptised. We have not needed to go down into the weed hatch since receiving them. They are meant to protect your hands and clothes with a tough rubber glove and and elastic long cuff. He didn’t need any shirt protection but the dirty charcoal that had disintegrated into mush and contained many ants made him want to keep his hands and ams covered.

PPE for handling an ant colony in a pile of charcoal

Back at the storage area I saw a large spider in around the area I thought Shane meant and managed to catch it with my glass and card. Shane looked and thought it was not big enough to be the right one. I have a theory the glass distorts making the captured creature look smaller as it didn’t look as big to me either, but Shane was unconvinced. Bigger spiders certainly exist but we didn’t find it today.

Shane found the second bag of supposed BBQ fuel was not even charcoal but ash. We definitely don’t need to keep either bag. We were well placed for disposing of organic matter and he scattered the contents in the hedge.

Shane scattering ants or ashes

Pleased he had found the likely source, he cleaned out the locker and then wanted to make the returning contents better protected from corrosion and general attack. We hit on the idea of using a roll of vinyl that we had brought at the start from Edinburgh. We thought this would be useful elsewhere but it wasn’t the right size for anything and had simply been stored. We were very glad to feel it had a use. I handed him the vinyl and knife and left him to it. With the charcoal bags removed there was more space in the locker for the pram covers that stay there.

Over lunch we dealt with keeping the odd bee at bay. Idyllic as this spot was, we did want to get moving today, not because of insects as they will keep coming, and it had been so sunny, we didn’t even need to charge the batteries by driving, but we fancied better WiFi. We hadn’t come away from the bank and felt the mooring was secure, but we had had some banging and fast moving boats. I tried to chase a butterfly but it disappeared. I saw a group of men approach on a familiar boat. It was Liberty. It had only recently gone up for sale and so I guessed they were new to it I got a brief greeting but they were focussed on the demanding driving as they were passing us at the same time leaving room as another boat came the other way between. I am guessing there was a bit of swinging about then. There was plenty room but they didn’t want to get in the bushes and the non drivers were fairly precariously perched on the gunwale.

A busy spot, Bartimaeus, Liberty another in between

We set off, once I had suncream on. Immediately it dulled over. The sun soon returned. It wasn’t long before we were at the lock. There was also waste disposal so I got rid of the bag of non compostable rubbish, cleared out of the locker. People were in the lock so we had time waiting for them. I got back just as they drove out and Shane drove in. Then we noticed a boat coming and waited. They had been behind us before but we thought they had stopped to moor but obviously they hadn’t and were back in sight. They thanked us for waiting. The man from the boat hopped off, helped me close the large gate then went down to wind at the other end. I crossed the gates, while Shane called out that it was going to move. It did slam closed as I was stepping between them but I was holding on to the rail. By the time I got round though, the man had finished and crossed over so I hadn’t winding to do. He said he would go back across as he had noticed the other side was a short arm and might be harder. I was grateful as I haven’t done many locks lately so getting the easier one was to my liking, especially as we were next to a busy pub and surrounded by people drinking in the sun. Three dogs were at the end of the gate but the owners were careful to keep them out from under my feet and apologetic for being a bit in the way. All was well. We finished up.

Our buddy boat was mooring up straight away. It was a short walk but just before the next lock was a lovely spot, so we moored ourselves. I could see an ice-cream sign too. I looked round once we had tied off and it had vanished. It was no mirage as Shane was looking for it too. We walked up and it had been taken off the towpath. We must have just missed it, shame but still lambs on the right, buttercups and blossom to the left so mustn’t complain.

I had hot feet so changed into sandals and sat outside knitting (bright light makes the lacy pattern so much easier) until Pimm’s o’clock. I made it and before we had barely said cheers, when Shane expressed his dissatisfaction with the programming he was doing. He was in need of a “cardboard programmer”, to whom he could explain it all and then he hoped a revelation would appear. I provided him with a cardboard kingfisher but he was unsatisfied with it, so explained it all to me, just as well I had Pimm’s to keep me engaged.

Cardboard kingfisher looking interested in Shane’s explanation of the programming

He has another idea to try but this morning’s debugging was much more successful than this afternoon’s. We had another al fresco dinner, ant free, but not free of bug discussion. He has given up programming for the evening. When he was going to close the bow doors for the night, before the insects move in, he found a large bumble bee blocking the door. He came to tell me about his latest bug. We went together and the bee moved around and flew away. Perhaps that will be the last of the debugging for the day.

Bumble bee on a window. The bee is on the join between the window and the frame. Its wings are at rest above its fluffy body. Its profile can be seen reflected in the window.
Bumble Bee in Bartimaeus’ Bedroom
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