“Let’s go find us some critters,” she said.
Last year a good friend came to visit and bought gifts. The boys busily tore off the Paw Patrol wrapping paper and out popped dome-shaped clear plastic boxes with screw tops and a magic magnifier at one end. “Bu ne Mommy?” (what’s this?) they chanted in unison, looking quizzically at them. “Bug boxes” my friend explained, “let’s go find us some critters!”.
Boys love bugs, Mommy really loves bugs!
Bugs are big in our house. The kids are fascinated by anything crawly or with more legs than them – especially if they scare or irritate me.
I knew straight away the boxes would be a hit and I was right, they were off – Crocs on feet, box in hand and heading for the nearest big bush. “You need pokey sticks” shouted my friend. The boys are now tearing chunks off the bush in an effort to free a twig. Having found suitable sticks and dealt with the tantrum on whose stick was biggest, we headed to the forest at the back of the villa to see what we could find. All seemed harmless at first. A bit of poking in the leaves drew out some big ants, a forage under a bush led us to a stag beetle, and we spotted some lovely butterflies and a dragonfly – all was well. We caught an earwig, a small stripy jumping spider and had a good stare at them before we let them go. Then I heard,
“Look, mommy, that big worm is moving – let’s catch it!”
Harvey was poking about in a bush behind me. I turned around to see him inches away from a snake. I have no idea what kind of snake it was but it was around an inch and a half thick, dark and roughly a meter long. “Get back” I cried, pulling him away.
The snake slithered off. We spoke about the dangers of snakes and resumed our safari with new rules; we stick together, no poking alone or wandering off.
A little further on and Dominik spotted an old web in an old dry stone wall. He was giving it a good poke. “Don’t”, I said pulling the stick off him and out of the crevice. The next thing a spindly leg appeared. Then another one. By this time we are all a foot or so back wondering what beastie would emerge – A bloody big beastie, that’s what! A spider with cream and brown coloured legs and a huge body. It seemed to have horns and was HUGE! (No exaggeration – it really was about the size of the palm of your hand). WTF? When I was growing up in Birmingham I remember jam-jarring woodlice, earwigs, caterpillars, ants and worms – all fairly harmless and small. But in Turkey hell no – Turkish bugs are massive! The only thing missing was a scorpion to top my list of most hated local critters.
“Home time. Let’s go. Who wants ice cream?” I shouted knowing that would shimmy them back towards the house.
Safe at home we decided to consult Google on the spider. It was a sun-spider otherwise known as a Camel Spider. They don’t really make webs but live in the cracks and crevices of stones and walls. They are not normally aggressive unless provoked – I’m guessing a good poke with a stick may have upset it a touch. I would rather we didn’t cross paths with it, or it’s relatives, again.
“Can we go on safari and find bugs again Mommy?” H and D said before bed. “Yes,” I replied, “but maybe not in the forest, just in the garden”.
Conclusions – Bugs in Turkey are not the same as bugs back home. Beasties do get pissed when you poke them. A pokey stick is never long enough and the wearing of flip flops in forests is not suggested – you don’t know what’s lurking in the Turkish undergrowth.