Yesterday late afternoon we had a tremendous storm. The kind I love with thunder and lightening, black skies and sheets of rain. I knew this morning, out on my walk, I would find all of the morning rain lovers and I was not disappointed.
After a good rain, the red furry spiders come out. My son has informed me that they are not spiders; I can’t confirm or deny this. They look like spiders anyway. I know nothing about their ecology, but I imagine from the look of them they are either poisonous to birds and others that might want to eat them or very bad tasting. This morning while trying to get a picture of these fast furry fellows, I found one which sat very still for me. It was dead; busy being eaten by a mob of tiny ants. So at least I know now that ants eat them. My husband has informed me that when they were children they called these furry red spiders (or not) ntsanyana ya modimo- the puppy of God. I think that is delightful especially if you keep in mind how precious rain is here and how these guys only pitch up when we’ve had some.
The other rain loving creature that was out in force and in a multitude of sizes this morning was the millipede. We have incredible millipedes that love to come out after the rain. I’ve seen some as long as my forearm. This morning I saw small ones and medium size ones and quite a big one. Being a much better photographer in theory than I am in practice, I took pictures of all sizes, but upon loading the pictures into the computer I realised that I didn’t put anything in the photo for reference so they all look about the same size. Sorry about that. The Setswana word for millipede is one of the first that non-Setswana speakers learn as it is so much fun to say- sebokolodi.
Now tonight we will have the flying termites. They come after a good rain. I don’t know if it is true, but I was told once that they have wings for only one night to fly in the sky in search of mates. They fly for only a few hours and then fall to the ground and their wings fall off. They crawl around then and find ‘the one’. If you leave a light on, they will crowd around it en masse. In the morning, you will be left with piles of light brown, transparent wings under the light, but no termites. Look out in your yard. If it is nicely cleared and swept, you will see hundreds of little mounds of dirt. I got such a shock the first time I saw them. The termites have all disappeared underground. It only happens after the first few good rains then it’s over until the next year. The dikokobele will be finished for the year.
Although dung beetles (khukhwane ya boloko) are not exclusively rain lovers, I was happy to see one this morning. You’ve got to appreciate their industriousness.