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Bug hunting! Botanical

Maree Clarkson

Tarlton, South Africa

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Artist's Description

Pilot Fineliner Black ink sketches with W&N watercolour done in my Moleskine Nature Journal – all bugs found in my garden in Tarlton, Gauteng, south Africa.
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Hopper: “It’s a bug-eat-bug world out there, princess. One of those Circle of Life kind of things. Now let me tell you how things are supposed to work: The sun grows the food, the ants pick the food, the grasshoppers eat the food…”

Molt: “And the birds eat the grasshoppers. Hey, like the one that nearly ate you, you remember? You remem- Oh, you shoulda seen it, okay?”

Hopper: “Molt!”

Molt: “This blue jay has him half way down his throat, okay? And Hopper – Hopper’s kicking and screaming, okay? And I’m scared, okay, I’m not going anywhere near, okay- Aw, come on! It’s a great story!”

[Hopper grabs Molt by the antennae]

Molt: “Ow! Ow! Ow!”
~ From A Bug’s Life
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Something I haven’t done for a l-o-n-g time is to go bug hunting. There again, haven’t needed to, as I haven’t had anybody in my "animal hospital’ recently that needs feeding bugs! But this morning I decided to specifically go and look for something to sketch. It was quite a job – thanks to my chickens, my garden seems to be devoid of insects! However, I did manage to find quite a selection at my pond, which is in a fenced area and rarely gets visited by the chickens.

One of my most exciting finds, was a Water Beetle or Diving Beetle in the pond. These insects only visit a healthy water system and I was ecstatic to see him. I let him be, because I know better than to try and catch him! – they deliver a VERY painful, stinging bite, which lingers for ages! So I did a quick sketch while he sat quietly next to a rock just under the water surface.

My next exciting find was a little thin-tailed scorpion as I over-turned one of the rocks. These little fellas are fairly harmless and non-venomous, but I definitely wasn’t going to risk a sting, so he was also quickly sketched before I coaxed him to a new hiding place.

My third find, besides a grasshopper I managed to catch, was a dead wasp lying on the lawn. Her I could bring inside and sketch at leisure. It was a Mud Dauber, and one of my favourite wasps. I’ve never found them to sting, not even when caught, and I let them be in the house while they dart in and out collecting mud for wherever they’re building their mud nest, usually in a corner up against the ceiling, and every now and then it’s removal time when I haven’t seen any activity near the nest for some time.

Artwork Comments

  • Sally Griffin
  • Maree Clarkson
  • Elizabeth Kendall
  • Maree Clarkson
  • Pieta Pieterse
  • Maree Clarkson
  • JolanteHesse
  • Maree Clarkson
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