With the evenings getting warmer and wetter, the Green Kalahari is starting to live up to its name, and the nights are suddenly alive with bugs. Now, I love insects more than the next woman, but even I have to admit to certain reservations about this development. It’s a test of one’s resolve to be a good, unobtrusive observer when there are seventeen moths doing the tango up your sleeve. Not to mention when every insect within a hundred meter radius seems convinced that your eyes are two delightful little watering holes placed in the desert for their express enjoyment.
But whilst these circumstances are trying for humans, they’re bliss for the batties. Meandering through the sandy scrub with a pretty little fox called Beatrix, I started to appreciate just how agile these carnivores are. Grasshoppers, huge and juicy, were darting all around us. Pirouetting like a lethal ballerina, Beatrix gulped down grasshopper after grasshopper, swinging her radar dish ears in the direction of every new sound. She tracked them flawlessly, supplementing her diet of termites and ants with these tasty new options.
Along with the influx of grasshoppers comes a bewildering array of arachnids. Solifuges, Huntsmen the size of my palm and fat buthid scorpions, glittering in the torchlight as they scuttle about their business. These too make for good eating, as another of the vixens, Donna, spent our evening together wolfing down solifuges. No mean feat considering how incredibly fast these primitive arachnids can move!
But of course, my most amusing observation was provided once more by Bruce. Somehow, while uprooting a shrub in a bid for ants, Bruce acquired a stowaway. As I stood there, trying desperately not to laugh, he carried on munching ants whilst a delicious Huntsman spider sat perfectly still on his head, not daring to move. We moved from bush to bush for about fifteen minutes, until finally, his passenger disembarked onto a nearby shrub. As the spider moved silently off into the night I smiled at its lucky escape. I have a feeling the other bugs out here aren’t going to have it so easy.