Empusa pennata, nymph, South of France, Languedoc

Little Beasties everywhere

Birds and bees don’t change all that much between countries and gardens. But there were quite a few little beasties I had never seen before, including a large Western Whip Snake, crawling at speed straight up the embankment, hissing and spitting, because Monty the cat was in full pursuit…


Billions of ants in all sizes from tiny little red ones to large black ants, tirelessly carrying and dragging seeds of all shapes along a busy highway and into their nest.

Busy Bees

We don’t have very many honeybees but instead lots of small brown solitary bees and more and more big and beautiful, bluish-black mason bees (Xylocopa).

Bugs and Beetles

Butterflys and Moths

Great Tiger Moths resting in the garden during the daytime, white butterflies and the occasional Swallowtails dancing from flower to flower, and even a beautiful yellow and orange Cleopatra Butterfly. This fall I will definitely plant a buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus) because that’s the only plant their caterpillars can feed on.

Crickets and grasshoppers

Cicadas as well as other crickets in various colors and sizes, as well as large flying grasshoppers or Egyptian locusts.


I had never seen a live praying mantis before – imagine me coming across my first Empusa nymph…! You see them all over the garden, just quietly sitting and waiting for the next meal…


No slugs – it is too hot and dry for them here. But lots of pretty little snails, resting in flowers, on leaves or once even having a big slumberparty on a stalk of leftover chicory that had finished blooming. No damage at all to any vegetables.

Of course Mosquitoes are also quite plentiful here from May/June through the fall. Large and relatively slow tiger mosquitoes as well as smaller mosquitoes that are quite invisible and inaudible and that one only notices when the itch starts. But let’s not talk about those. They simply have to be endured… and everyone has their own strategy like long pants and shirts, gardening in the morning hours, insect spray, etc…


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