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Archive for the 'Nature' Category

My Curls Are Natural. It’s True, I’m Telling You! #cute #animals

I took this photo at the local A & P show. This fellow was a bit of a poser with his cute curls.

Angora Goat

Dinosaur of the Insect World #travel #NewZealand

The weta – it’s a large and primitive insect, native to New Zealand. The reason I chose to write about wetas today is so more people know what they are. When I used a weta reference in my book Janaya, my editor didn’t know what I was talking about and I had to rewrite slightly to describe a weta as a prehistoric cricket-like insect.

Tree Weta, New Zealand

There are five broad groups of weta:

1. Tree weta
2. Ground weta
3. Cave weta
4. Giant weta
5. Tusked weta

Wetas are nocturnal and live in a variety of habitats including grassland, scrub land, forests and caves. They live under stones and in rotten logs or in pre-formed burrows in trees.

They are mainly herbivores in the wild but are known to eat other insects. They can bite but are not poisonous. Species of weta are still being discovered and several are endangered. In the wild, they were traditionally eaten by the tuatara (a prehistoric reptile native to NZ) but these days many are destroyed by rats, cats and dogs and of course, humans encroaching on their habitat.

The weta sheds its exoskeleton when moulting.

At 18 months the male weta selects a female and they spend time together in the male’s territory. (Romance in the insect world!)

At around two years old, the female will lay 100 – 300 eggs. The parents die before the weta eggs hatch 3 – 5 months later.

The Department of Conservation in New Zealand is currently involved in weta breeding programs and translocation to safe sites such as protected islands like Tiritiri Matangi and Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. The weta respond well to a captive breeding program.

The following video is of a giant weta.

I’ve never seen a giant weta but have personal experience with both tree and cave wetas. We often find tree wetas in our garden and will return them to live in peace. They can nip and look creepy but I don’t mind them.

My experience with cave wetas is a bit more spooky. When I was a kid, my girlfriend lived on a farm with limestone caves. It was a favorite pastime to visit the caves and wander through them with a candle and maybe a torch to search for stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms. When I think about our cave visits now, I can see how dangerous it was, but for us it was an adventure – an hour or two of wandering through pristine caves. One day we discovered a new tunnel and were all set to charge into it to explore. I happened to shine the torch over the ceiling and it was covered with huge cave wetas! I let out a screech and dropped the torch, and we all decided to explore another part of the cave. I also took to checking my gumboots carefully and shaking vigorously before I put my feet in them. This lasted for a few weeks until the initial horror passed. I’ve never been bitten by a weta, but I’m always careful not to get too close either. I can appreciate them from a distance.

How are you with insects? Do you like them or hate them with a passion? Do you have any insect stories to tell? What do you think of New Zealand’s weta?

So I Told Her Everything… #cute #animals

Camera Critters

I took this photo at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney. It always makes me smile because it looks as if the sheep are gossiping. At least, the first sheep is and she’s put the other one to sleep.

Sheep

What do you think the sheep might be saying?

Middlemarch Shifters: Sutton Salt Lake #travel #newzealand

Several of the books in my Middlemarch Shifters series mention Sutton Salt Lake. In My Feline Protector, a villain terrorizes the heroine during a visit to the lake.

Our visit was a peaceful one.

Sutton Salt Lake is an inland lake. It is an unusual lake because, as the name suggests, the water is  salty rather than fresh. During the summer the water evaporates and salt forms on the surface. These photos were taken in late November and the lake was almost completely dry, despite it not being the height of our New Zealand summer. (that’s around late Jan, early Feb). It was also very smelly!

Middlemarch Sutton Salt Lake

Sutton Salt Lake 2

Sutton Salt Lake

My Feline Protector – One of the books in the Middlemarch Shifters that mentions Sutton Salt Lake.

ShelleyMunro_MyFelineProtector_200pxA glimpse across a crowded room…

Feline shapeshifter Gerard Drummond catches sight of a human woman with innocent eyes and lush curves and he’s toast. He desperately wants to meet her, and with his best friend Henry as his wingman, he’s soon chatting with the gorgeous London Allbright and her sister Jenny.

Despite swearing off men, the sexy Middlemarch local charms London, and she agrees to take part in a zombie run, even though she isn’t athletic in the least. The longer she spends with Gerard, the more she’s tempted, but no…she’s heading back to England and has no time for romance.

The obstacles aren’t only on the zombie run course. Gerard can’t let London leave, and now it seems Henry is hitting it off with London’s sister. There must be a way…

A shocking murder changes everything and throws their lives into turmoil. Gerard and London, Henry and Jenny. Nothing will ever be the same as danger stalks London, and Gerard struggles to keep his English beauty safe.

Warning: Contains a sexy feline male who knows exactly who he wants and isn’t afraid to chase her, to woo her, to protect and love her until she decides to stop running.

Read an excerpt here

Hanging Out With My Buddy #animal #cute

Camera Critters

I took this photo during a visit to my father’s farm. The pigs and cattle were grazing peacefully together and these two seemed like best friends.

Shelley 153

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters

I Spy With My Beady Eye #animal #cute

Camera Critters

I snapped this shot at my local agricultural show at the end of last year. This hen was certainly watching me closely!

Hen

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters

Struttin’ My Stuff #animal #cute

Camera Critters

I took this photo at the Sydney Botanical Gardens in December of last year. He was strutting around and posing for all the tourists.

Cockatoo

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters

Moon Called – Facts and Superstitions About the Moon

Moon

The moon is fascinating—at least I find it interesting. There is nothing more romantic than a walk under a cloudless sky with a full moon.

Facts about the moon:

  1. The moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite.
  2. The moon is 384,403 kilometers from the Earth.
  3. It takes the moon 27.3 days to orbit the Earth.
  4. Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon. He is one of 12 people who have walked on the moon.
  5. The surface of the moon is covered with craters from collisions with comets and asteroids.
  6. The Earth’s tides are caused mainly by the gravitational pull of the moon.
  7. A lunar eclipse causes when the Earth is between the moon and the sun.
  8. The moon is shaped like an egg. The larger end points toward Earth.
  9. A survey was conducted in 1988, and 13% of those questioned believed the moon was made from cheese.
  10. The moon has no atmosphere.

Moon1

Sometimes the moon is visible during the day, which was when this photo was taken.

Moon2

There moon is the subject of many superstitions.

Here are a few:

  1. A full moon is when men transform into wolves.
  2. A full moon is a good time to start a new job or finish old business.
  3. A full moon can make you crazy. Police and hospitals will confirm that there are more problems around a full moon.

Do you have anything to add?

The White Heron or Kotuku

While the white heron is common in Australia and parts of Asia, we’re lucky to see them. They are considered rare in New Zealand. The Maori called them kotuku and their white feathers were highly sought for decoration. It is known as a graceful and beautiful bird and is featured on the New Zealand two-dollar coin.

We have a resident kotuku in our area. He or she hangs out at the local pond where he wades and fishes for fish and eels. We never know when the heron will be at the pond, and it disappears for months at a time.

Here are a few photos taken during one of the kotuku’s visits.

IMG_9750

Kotoku

Kotoku3

Kotoku2

A beautiful bird. Have you seen one before?

Spider Cures and Superstitions

While doing some research for one of my books, I came across several superstitions regarding spiders. On the whole spiders are considered positive, and many people protected them from harm because they were considered lucky.

Here are a few superstitions:

1. If a spider is sighted during the evening, expect a letter in the morning.

2. If you kill a spider, it will rain the following day.

3. If you see a spider running toward you in the morning, misfortune will follow.

araneus diadematus

What I found slightly disturbing is that spiders were used to cure diseases such as ague, whooping cough and to treat bleeding.

The spiders were:

1. Swallowed as a medicine, disguised by jam or treacle. The spider was swallowed alive.

2. A type of pill was made enclosing the live spider in cobwebs and this was swallowed.

3. The spider was enclosed in a nut or a linen bag and worn around the neck until the spider died.

Not so good for the spider!

Spider webs were also used to bind wounds and stop bleeding. I’m not sure how well this works, but I think I’ll stick with plasters rather than experiment.

The use of spiders as medicine contradicts the idea that spiders were considered lucky.

An Orkney saying goes: If you wish to thrive, let the spider go alive.

While a Devon saying goes: Who kills a spider, bad luck betides her.

Where do you fall on the spider scale? Are they lucky or unlucky?

Source: The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland