Sunday, 12 June 2011
Gem in the stingers
Jewelled beetles are not the monopoly of the tropics or the gorgeous East. We had a lovely walk at Gargrave yesterday and spotted this gleam of turquoise, the colour of the Turk, in a clump of nettles. It was an industrious Green Nettle Weevil which is not only fearless of the poisonous spikes which cover the plant quite impressively in the close-up pic below. It eats them.
The nettle weevil family is black underneath the layer of iridescent sheen, and as the year goes on, many of them lose their beautiful top coat, just as we get wrinkly after the bloom of youth. For the weevil it probably matters less than it does to all those misguided souls who spend money on Botox et al. Weevils just go on eating nettle.
If you live within reach of Gargrave, I thoroughly recommend the walk - following the Pennine Way north from near the church to a lonely signpost in a field between the summits of the village's little Everests, Mickleber and Scaleber hills, then down to the flight of locks at Bank Newton and back along the canal towpath to the village. Gargrave is a favourite example in talks I give on the need for optimism about the UK's North. When the last big cotton mill closed after the 1929 crash, things looked disastrous; but Johnson & Johnson down in Slough were looking to locate somewhere cleaner and set up a huge (but very discreetly-sited) factory, which benefited additionally from local skills in the making of its main product, cotton wool. It's Systagenix now, but still a fine example of skilled and interesting jobs which allow a wide range of people to live in this little piece of Paradise.