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Ruaha blog: Life in Macro - Insects of Ruaha
Author: Marius Swart
Ruaha blog: Life in Macro - Insects of RuahaCreepy-crawlies, bugs, goggos or critters are all names, which conjure up feelings of fear and panic…a need to frantically swipe and slap at yourself whilst dancing on the spot! A reason to NOT go on safari in the rainy season.

As a kid I remember being influenced by the fear of other family members, convinced of impending death or grievous bodily harm every time an insect entered our space. It was not until I was a teenager that this irrational fear started waning due to the high survival rate of these encounters. A little bit of logic goes a long way…The abundance and diversity of arthropods in the natural world is beyond comprehension!

Mechanisms of physical adaptations regarding camouflage, defence and feeding is astounding and deserves to be marvelled at.

In Ruaha the rainy season usually commences from early December until early April. However from late November there are already signs of the approaching change, with the sudden increase in numbers of insects. A great majority of species provide a riot of colour and insanely intricate patterns in their design. Some cryptically painted to blend in and hide from potential predation and others boldly visible in very LOUD reds, blacks, whites and yellows! These vividly noticeable colours however serve a rather counterintuitive purpose.

Although strikingly apparent, these colours act as warning signs of the potent toxins present in the insect, which immediately divert attention from them. You only need to bite into an unripe fruit to quickly learn which colour means tasty and which not…

As for feeding mechanisms there are amongst others, biting or piercing mouthparts.Those that need to crush fruit-pulp or other insects have powerful mandibles which operate like scissors while those sucking sap from plants or the innards of other insects, they have a sharp straw-like proboscis to puncture and suck with.

Once you can control your anxiety about their perceived danger, there is always something amazing to observe with insects.Turn your fear into marvel by gradually paying attention to the less “scary” species and notice their form and function, patterns and colours. Ask your guide to point them out and you would be amazed at the wonderful addition insects make to the spectrum of experiences to be had whilst on safari!

Happy “bugging”…

Yours in awareness,
Marius Swart

If you would like to see the stunning images that have been provided with this blog post please don't hestitate to visit the Ruaha Blog post by clicking here>