Monday, 7 April 2014

The fields are full of lambs right now and the cowslips I grew from seed are flowering.

And where is baby Oleg? My pet ferret Bramble lost her toy teddy and we hoped baby Oleg would arrive and keep her company but he seems to have gone awol.

Here she is with teddy just after an operation to remove a cancer from the tip of her tail, she's also had a stomach ulcer and got a cataract. She knows none of these things of course and just wants her walks and plays like a maniac as usual.

Got some new Colour Soft pencils and thought I would have a go at drawing a Sexton Beetle that came to my moth trap last summer. I love Sexton beetles they are the undertakers of the animal world, big and robust looking (for a beetle) with a striking orange and black waistcoat. They are also usually covered in tiny orange phoretic mites that hitch a lift to the next corpse and which don't seem to affect their host particularly. I like to hold a Sexton beetle on an outstretched finger and watch it unfurl its wings - at this point all the mites usually hunker down and hold on ready for take off! Before you have a go I should also mention that Sexton Beetles smell appalling whether this is down to their activities or secretions to put off predators I don't know. When the beetles find a suitable corpse, like a mouse or rat they excavate the soil beneath it until it is completely underground then lay their eggs on it and feed their young on the decomposing flesh. The phoretic mites  feed on fly eggs and maggots so ensuring the flies do not compete with the beetles for food. The picture was done in coloursoft pencils and a dip pen with indian ink, using several photos for reference.

Sexton Beetle ( Nicrophorus investigator ) with two mites near head.