Monday, 31 May 2010
Something new every day
It's not often you learn a new word at my age, but here's one: halteres. You can see a couple in this picture of a Daddy Long-legs or Cranefly, the first of its kind ever to make this blog. Huzza! They are the little appendages with a knob on the end, like a Morris Minor gearstick, poking out on either side of the insect where its hindwings would be, if it had them. Aeons ago, daddy long-legs had hindwings, as dragonflies do, but they evolved into halteres, which are best described as flight guidance instruments. Through vibrations, they send messages to daddy long-legs brain control, and keep the insect on course and the right way up etc. Mind you, I wouldn't want to rely on them in civil aviation. Have you ever seen a daddy long-legs in flight? Harking back to my Airfix kit days, it compares with your average fly in the same way that a Lysander or German Stork plane did to a Spitfire or ME109. if you click on the pic, it will come up much bigger.
I took my second picture on an excursion up to my tree house, which I am getting ready for a visit from Ian Mayes, who is writing the latest history of the Guardian. The connection is, that panelling from the old Cross Street head office, which the London paper did not want in its general abandonment of all things Mancunian, now forms part of the tree-house's top floor. This was originally called the Isles Skylounge, after some neighbours who kindly donated me some fake stained glass windows, but it is now the C.P.Scott Room in honour of our greatest editor. I must now email Ian putting him off for a few weeks, because a pair of wood pigeons have chosen to nest right outside the tree house's first-floor windows and the mother got into a terrible panic when she saw me.