Staying Late

The strange weather continues. Yesterday was the 1st of December, but you would not have known that in Beetley. It was bright and sunny, with blue skies until almost 3pm. The temperature even got up to 10C, before falling back at sunset.

This confused the insects, who have stayed late. On Beetley Meadows I saw three different bumblebees, and walked through clouds of midges hovering over the riverbank. That proved to be a bad idea, as I received three large (and very itchy) bites on my head.

The trees have also been confused, but yesterday the local Oaks decided it was time to shed their leaves at long last. Those leaves have stayed late on the branches, and many still retain their green colour. There were thousands of leaves drifting gently to the ground, like multi-coloured extra-large snowflakes.

By the time I was walking home with Ollie, my shoes were crunching on a carpet of freshly-fallen leaves. When we made our way along the small woodland path, it was quite magical to see and feel them cascading down on us.

The same thing was happening to the large Oaks at the front and back of our house.

This reminded me that leaf-clearing season is late this year, but will still have to be done at some stage.

How Animals Perceive The World: Sound And Sight

If you have a pet, you may want to watch this short film. It examines how various animals, insects, and birds (including cats and dogs) hear and see the world that surrounds them, in a very different way to human perception. There is some science to listen to, but even I could understand it.

My friend Antony sent me the You Tube clip, and I think many of you will find it fascinating.

Vitamin B: An Update

In June, I wrote this post about taking Vitamin B tablets to ward off biting insects.

Vitamin B, and Biting Insects

Three months later, and close to the end of ‘the biting season’, I have a very positive update.

Since publishing that post, I have had just FOUR insect bites, including the one mentioned in June. Compare this to the regular 3-4 bites I used to get almost every day, even when I was wearing some heavy-duty insect repellent.

Regular readers will know that I walk my dog Ollie every day without fail. Those walks include a long riverside path, as well as woodland areas in the shade. Both of those locations are favoured by the usual midges and mosquitoes that have always craved my blood.

Even though I have still been able to see and hear those insects over the past three months, I have been unaware of any bites whatsoever, while out in the countryside. In fact, I am sure the four bites I did receive were done at night in the bedroom, when I was asleep.

Whatever bit me must have been desperate, and ready to overcome the effect that Vitamin B has on my skin.

My conclusion is that the experiment has been a SUCCESS, and I will continue to keep taking my daily tablet of Vitamin B. Especially as a year’s supply only cost me £7.99.

Vitamin B, and Biting Insects

Any regular reader of this blog will know that I often post about the fact that I get badly bitten by insects. Midges, mosquitoes, horsefiles, in fact anything that will bite a human to suck blood. I have spent my life trying to minimize this annual misery by taking tablets, covering my exposed skin in creams and repellent sprays, and wearing wristbands containing chemicals that they are not supposed to like.

Some years, all of that helps to keep the bites to a minimum, but it can often make no difference whatsoever.

Once the insects started to hatch out in May, I soon began to get bites while out walking with Ollie, even though the weather was wet and not very warm. Out came the sprays, and on went the wristbands, but I still had some large bites on my head and legs.

Just over a week ago, my wife was talking to one of her friends on the phone. She is a lady who has survived invasive cancer treatment, and as a result has to take a lot of medication, and vitamin supplements. They were having a conversation about me recently buying an ‘electric insect-killer’ device, a blue lamp surrounded by small electrical wires that attracts insects, and then electrocutes them.

The friend stated casually that since she had been required to take a daily dose of Vitamin B Complex, she no longer got bitten by insects. She recommended I try that, and I ordered a year’s supply from Amazon immediately, for the reasonable price of £7.99. I suspected this might be something unique to our friend, but had nothing to lose by trying.

One week later, and I have had just one insect bite. That was on the first day I took a tablet, so I knew it would take some time to get into my system. In the very hot weather earlier this week, despite seeing clouds of insects by the river, I didn’t get bitten again. Not once.

So I looked it up, wondering if it had any scientific basis. And apparently, it does.

‘Many dermatologists now recommend that the skin can be made much less attractive to biting insects by taking Vitamin B supplements whilst at risk. So, we recommend that Vitamin B complex, 2 tablets twice a day, or Vitamin B-1, 100 mg daily, is a good way of helping to reduce the risk of being bitten. 28 Sept 2017’

‘Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is backed by numerous studies to help prevent insect bites
Some people seem to be more more prone to insect bites than others, we do not fully understand why, but numerous studies indicate that taking vitamin B1 is a proven alternative to sprays and wipes to make you less prone to insect bites.’

‘A common problem people have to contend with on holiday in locations all over the globe is mosquito bites. But Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient, says taking vitamin B12 before you travel can help prevent them. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA. Dr Thornber said this is worth taking a few weeks before you travel overseas’.

Just three of the many quotes I found from online articles. Only the second one is from a vitamin company website, the others are from medical sources.

If you are someone who suffers the misery of insect bites, it has to be worth a try, don’t you think?

Wasp Alert!

I am trying to think if I ever saw wasps this early in the year. Those stinging insect pests are a summer regular, annoyingly buzzing around drinks and food during hot weather, or hovering around overstuffed litter bins at coastal resorts.

It has been sunny this week, but not exactly warm, let alone hot. Yet the wasps have arrived many months too early. They have been in the kitchen, inside the shed, and buzzing noisily around partially-opened windows.

Naturally, they get no mercy from me. Immediate application of the plastic fly swat has already dealt with some of them, and it has been left to hand for any further waspish intruders.

Let’s hope the Murder Hornets have not woken up too, and are making their way to Beetley.

Climate Change: Something Else To Worry About

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will know that I suffer badly from insect bites during the summer season.

If something is capable of biting a human, it will choose me above anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity. Then it will follow me home, to feast on me at its leisure.

In an effort to combat them, I spend a lot of money on repellent sprays and creams. I also wear an impregnated bangle, and have to take daily tablets to control the itching on the bites that get through my defences.

At least the arrival of colder months gives me some relief from those bites, on my daily walks with Ollie.

I certainly do not expect to be bitten in November, that’s for sure.

But we had a very long spell of relatively mild wet weather during October. When the rain stopped, the sun came out and had a surprising amount of warmth in it. It got to temperatures unknown in November since I lived here, and we didn’t even need to put the heating on until after dark. After three days of bright sunshine, I was able to start to enjoy my walks with Ollie as I was not getting soaked. Then yesterday, I noticed huge clouds of midges on the path next to the river. I decided to backtrack, to avoid walking through the visible swarm.

Close to the time I was heading home, I met a dog-walker I hadn’t seen in a while, and stopped for a socially-distanced chat as the dogs checked each other out. At one stage, he remarked “You have a lot of flying things around your head”. I moved away from that spot, and said my farewells.

This morning, I woke up with five large itchy bites at the back of my head, and a swelling in front of my left ear.

They got me again. And it is November!

The Mosquito Mystery

Do you get bitten a lot by mosquitoes, and other biting insects? I do. Do you know people who never get bitten, even when they are in the same place as you, surrounded by hordes of potential biters? I do.

For as long as I can remember, I have been plagued by insect bites. They have ruined holidays, made day trips a misery, and kept me awake at night. In the worst case, they managed to badly infect my legs, and I wanted to return home early from Crete, but couldn’t get a flight.

I have used every repellent known to man, and every after-bite treatment sold on the market too. Even if they reduce the number of bites, they never stop them completely. Yet I was once married to someone who was never bitten at all, in the ten years we were together. She could sit next to me watching them swarming around me, but as far as they were concerned, she didn’t exist.

I found this article suggesting why only some of us are selected by those flying pests. They have been doing some research, and come to various conclusions.

It won’t stop you being bitten, but it might explain why.

If Ants Were As Big As Poodles

The photo above is of a ‘Murder Hornet’. I read this about them yesterday.
‘Huge ‘murder hornets’ capable of killing humans have invaded the US’.

It’s pretty big, we can all see that. But what if it was as as big as a pigeon? Then imagine hundreds of them swarming around on a hot day. It’s a lucky escape for humans that insects are tiny in comparison to us. If ants were as big as dogs, even small dogs like poodles, they would have wiped out the human race a very long time ago, I’m sure.

Even the smallest insects kill tens of thousands of us every year. Take the mosquito spreading malaria, or locusts wiping out crops, leading to starvation for many. By combining into huge swarms, or living in city-sized colonies, insects prove that there is strength in numbers.

If humble houseflies were as big as oranges, just think how miserable our life would be. Something so easily dealt with by swatting, fly spray, or even a rolled up newspaper would suddenly become a whole different ball game. And think of dragonflies as big as eagles, swooping down on us. Or perhaps don’t think about that, as it’s too terrible to contemplate.

Spiders are not insects, but if they were as big as dustbin lids, we might all be in a lot of trouble. One of those in the bath wouldn’t be easy to flush down the drain by running the hot tap. And getting trapped in their web would be the end of you, undoubtedly. And if wasps were the size of Havana Cigars, the idea of a country picnic woud never have even been invented.

Gardens would probably not exist if aphids were as big as a lemon. Try washing them away with a spray of soapy water. Not going to happen. And if bees were the size of grapefruits, forget getting anyhere near their honey.

So evolution worked out pretty well for us, didn’t it?

Insects and Genies

Three wishes. What would you wish for?This ‘seasonal’ post from 2012 has never had one ‘like’ or comment, and as far as I know, has never been read.


When I was very young, I read a story about a young adventurer. He finds an old lamp, and as he rubs it, to make it shine, a spirit appears from the spout, in the form of smoke. This takes form, and declares that it is the Genie of the Lamp, and that it will grant the finder three wishes. This fascinated me at the time, and I often considered what three wishes I would have chosen, had I been the lucky lad. More than 50 years later, I know that Genies do not exist, and that it is an Arabian folk tale, which later became a swashbuckling story embellished by Hollywood. None the less, I still have my three wishes ready, just in case.

Wish 1 would be to have a lot of money, say £100,000,000. This would mean that my latter years would be lived free from financial…

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Swallowing flies

I had to take Ollie out early yesterday. My car had been recalled for a manufacturer’s safety adaptation, and it was booked in for Ollie’s usual walking time. So I headed out much earlier than usual, at 11 am.

It was unusually warm for November, with real heat coming from the low sun that could also temporarily blind you, when walking in certain directions. At that time of day, there are few other people around, but Ollie was very lively, and rushing around smelling and marking as always. By the time we got to the river bend, I was regretting wearing even a light coat, and my legs and feet were hot, in my heavy rubber boots. But despite the warmth, I needed the boots for the damp grass, and the mud that remains from the last rainfall.

Turning along the riverside section of the path, It was hard to avoid the harsh glare of the reflections of the sun from the water. As I shielded my eyes, I was rather startled to see clouds of insects ahead, small gnats or midges, no doubt revitalised by the unexpected heat of what should have been a cold November day. Walking into them, I flapped my hand around to disperse them, and at the same time, I sneezed unexpectedly. A few steps further on, and I could feel something peculiar in my throat, a strange tickle that was completely unfamiliar. My natural inclination was to swallow.

As I caught up with the scampering dog, it dawned on me that a lot of those flies must have got into my mouth when I sneezed, and it was not at all pleasant to realise that I had swallowed them.

Today it is dark, cloudy, damp, and raining intermittently.

I doubt I will have to worry about swallowing any flies this afternoon.