IN THE COW PARSLEY

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In one of those instances where you never notice something until someone points it out to you, and then you see it everywhere; last week I noticed the cow parsley. There seems to the swathes of the stuff wherever I look at the moment, but with its fern-like leaves, geometric stalks, and delicate little white flowers, I’m not complaining.

Recently I took some time to see what could be found among the verges which the species had coloured a frothy white; and the answer, aside from the multitudes of mosquitoes that were haunting the sheltered vegetation, appears to be click beetles. The guys get their name not from their appearance, which at first glance is quite plain and boring, but from the sound they make if they’re threatened, or for some reason end up on their backs. They have a special peg between their thorax and abdomen that they can use to store elastic energy, which, when released, flings them up in to the air with a loud click. They can’t control where they land, and half the time end up back on their backs, which significantly increases their adorableness level to a solid 8/10.

Less fiendishly difficult to photograph, but also hanging out in the verges, was this harvestman. One normally only gets to see harvestmen trundling around the leaf litter on a forest floor, on legs so spindly that it looks as if they’re being moved by invisible strings. This one was still for long enough that I finally got to have a good look at their little faces with their high-sitting eyes and surprisingly large chelicerae. Just goes to show that some of the coolest things can be found in the most mundane of spaces. Thanks cow parsley.

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