The real jewel beetle

It has been a long time since I saw a jewel beetle live, and up close. Called  pon vandu  (golden beetle, பொன்வண்டு), this beetle used to be a favorite with the village boys. Once it lands on a tree, or shrub, it is easy to

catch. In Coimbatore this was usually found in the jujube (Zizyphus, இலந்த பழம் (ilanthai/elantha pazham)) tree.

Jujube

Jujube

Boys used to take them, keep them inside match boxes or other small boxes, and feed them the leaves of jujube. Pretty harmless, unless you put your finger near the neck, it can snap back, and pinch hard enough, to draw blood.

Of course these are wood borers, but it doesn’t seem to really affect any economically important wood. Out in the village, these can been seen near kodukapuli ( Cheenipuliyangai , Pithecellobium dulce)  trees. During summer holidays, what the boys used to do, is take a small stick (the small midrib on coconut leaf), put the jewel beetle on it, hold it vertical, and heap sand around the beetle. When it crawls up and out of the sand, you’ll find a small, cream colored, elongated egg. There may be a trick to find a female, at the right stage to do this. For the village kids, connected to life around them, this may be a natural thing.
Now with right to education (which is mostly a cover, to get enough coolies, caught young and indoctrinated for various soulless occupations), space for such observation, is being eliminated. Of course, modern farming, doesn’t allow space for creeks, for live fences with shrubs, and trees, or for insects. So jewel beetles have become rarer.

I saw this one on a small Arjuna tree (marutha maram, Terminalia). Got it down on a blade of grass, took some photos and put it back.
ponvandu

The north-east monsoon, the primary rainy season here, has been generous. It has been five years since it rained so well. Out there on another farm you can see the government sponsored rectangular farm pond. The banks are raised much higher than the surrounding land. Probably they dug out lots of soil, but the high banks are of no use, unless of course you pump water from elsewhere into the pond.

Rectangular pond, dug under government scheme

Rectangular pond, dug under government scheme

Avaram plants (ஆவாரம்பூ, Tanner’s Cassia – Cassia auriculata ) are in bloom. The dried flowers make a good tea. This plant is cut and mulched, while puddling for rice cultivation. It turns the water red.

Cassia in bloom

Cassia in bloom

Out in our farm the swales are doing a decent job. The pond itself doesn’t have any water, most of it has seeped into the gravelly soil.

Pond after the rains, empty, with all its water having seeped underground

Pond after the rains, empty, with all its water having seeped underground

A few hundred feet away from the pond, a hole previously dug for planting a tree, has water in it. Would there be life in it? Probably not, there is a film of oil on it. Someone said that the oil might have leaked from tractors. You expect water to spring out clear and life-giving, but you see the pollution of industrial agriculture. Even otherwise, the pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers have killed the frogs and fresh water crabs.

Rain water

Rain water

Speaking of crabs, got a crab from the fish store, with eggs on it. The eggs are all connected, and nourished by the mother. Here’s a view under the microscope, the eggs have dried out, and it is not that clear, but you can make out that the eggs are connected.

This is a saltwater crab.

This is a saltwater crab.

Water in the well has come up. Since this water is from springs deep down, the water is clear. A few catfish thrive in the well. Seems like aggressive african catfish.  I saw this fish stand on its tail, its head reared up, like a snake about to strike. It remains motionless in this position. These have to be removed, and native fish have to be introduced.
well
While taking bath, I disturbed a field mice’s nest. The mother took her babies to higher, and drier ground. It was hard to get the camera to focus, but you can make out the babies, and if you look closely, the mother. Such tender loving care!

Mouse with babies

Mouse with babies

I saw this nice blue butterfly. But there weren’t that many insects, as I would have expected, after such good rains.

Nice blue butterfly

Nice blue butterfly

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