I wonder if schools and other organisations still give books to children as prizes if they do well in exams. Certainly it was common when I was a little girl. Somewhere among my books, I think I’d find ones awarded to my mother, as well, so it’s a practice that goes back a long way here in the UK.
The reason I am wondering is because I’ve been wishing I could find my Observer’s Book of Common Insects and Spiders, which was the book I claimed as my prize after doing well in a Scripture exam I must have taken through the Sunday School or Girls’ Brigade.
Back in the Sixties, little girls weren’t supposed to want to know about creepy-crawlies so, although it was a perfectly acceptable book, I think my choice surprised the adults who were making the award. But I already had several books on butterflies and plants, or at least I had access to the ones my parents and siblings owned, so I suppose it was a logical progression.
Anyway, the point of this is that if I had that book now, I might be able to identify this insect that I photographed this morning. (And, indeed, the one at the top of the post that I snapped a few days ago.)
It doesn’t look like a wasp to me, despite the neat hourglass marking that imitates a wasp waist. But after rummaging around on the internet for a while, I’ve discovered that if it were a bee, it wouldn’t have big bug eyes and it would have long antennae. So I think it must be a hoverfly.
The Observer’s books were “pocket editions” and if the creature really is a hoverfly, I doubt very much that there would have been space in the book for all 270 species. So perhaps it wouldn’t be much use anyway.
Never mind. It’s probably time I found a poem to include in the post. I don’t think I have any hoverflies in my poems, though there is the occasional wasp. Here, there are bees, even if they are heard rather than seen. They also aren’t British bees, so might not be in the book either.:
For sale: One olive grove
with fourteen olive trees.
– Lot includes assorted sundries (not guaranteed):
two strawberry trees whose tipsy fruit
droops cherry red beside white lamp-globe flowers;
pale lichen antlers haired with frost;
of around fifteen azure-winged magpies (each
with tail to match, beige underbelly and sleek black cap);
lizards (invisible to unobservant eyes);
the nocturnal rustle of hedgehogs and small rodents;
fine scarves of autumn morning mist woven
with glistening devil’s spit;
an occasional red squirrel
hours of sunshine every year, many of which are filled
with the hum of bees, birdsong and the busy symphony
of cricket orchestras;
of the Gredos Mountains and the Milky Way. –
Connection to utilities (mains water, electricity)
can be arranged; building permit available
from the Town Hall