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Thursday 20 January 2011
How will we characterise our age? By the birth of the internet? The rise of China? The first black US president? Perhaps in all those ways. But we could also say, less obviously but perhaps more fundamentally, that ours is the age when the insects disappeared.
Friday 14 January 2011
With a thump, a thick tome lands on my desk: it is the Provisional Atlas of the UK's Larger Moths. Two adjectives in that title, provisional and larger, may well deter some people as they give off a definite whiff of nerdiness, but having by now been infected with the nerd germ I am immune to such concerns, open the volume eagerly and at once find myself immersed in the world of the oblique carpet, the dark spinach, the smoky wainscot, the brindled pug, the snout, the beautiful snout, the Bloxworth snout and the true lover's knot.
Saturday 08 January 2011
When I was invited to join five friends in India, I jumped at the chance. Working at London's Natural History Museum, I am used to photographing fascinating things, but this trip was quite different – it was all about subjects, out in the wild.
Monday 27 December 2010
The return of the traditional seasons, with cold winters, a late spring and a reasonably warm summer has proved to be a tonic for much of Britain’s wildlife, according to an analysis by experts at the National Trust.
Wednesday 15 December 2010
You report (13 December) that Labour is to woo Liberal Democrats. This is after Ed Miliband promised to eliminate us.
Friday 26 November 2010
If we ask ourselves what has been lost, that we really care about, in the last 50 years, what has gone from the natural world in Britain that was special and is now much missed, we might come up with many different answers.
Friday 12 November 2010
Tuesday 05 October 2010
Hole-ridden tweed suits that looked like they'd been devoured by generations of moths opened Chanel's spring-summer 2011 ready-to-wear show today with what seemed like a sly commentary on the French heritage house's amazing staying power.
Sunday 03 October 2010
An unwanted dinner guest: How do you grow salad leaves that won't come complete with creepy crawlies?
Sunday 05 September 2010
This is a very enjoyable meal, except for one thing: there's a curled green caterpillar in the middle of the plate. He's not even a small caterpillar. He's a long, fairly fat boy with a healthy yet unappetising wiggle to him, despite his stay in the salad. The waitress is surprisingly unsurprised: "The leaves are organic," she tells me, as if that explains why they didn't get a proper wash.
Sunday 29 August 2010
Friday 20 August 2010
I have just spent a fortnight in a farmhouse in the Normandy countryside where the garden was full of butterflies. There are more butterfly species in France than in Britain – more than four times as many, something like 250 as compared with fewer than 60 here – and there also appear to be simply more individual insects, as the French countryside seems not to have suffered quite the battering inflicted on the natural world in Britain by intensive farming. The roadside verges were overflowing with splendid wild flowers, agrimony, betony, yellow toadflax and even glowing blue cornflowers, which in Britain are virtually extinct; there were red squirrels, roe deer and green woodpeckers in the wood across the road and hares in the fields, and my wife saw la fouine, the beech marten, run through the garden.
Friday 20 August 2010
A rare British bat has developed remarkable stealth technology to sneak up on the moths which are its principal prey, new research has shown.
Thursday 19 August 2010
Friday 06 August 2010
Say "spider" and, if you can bear to think of them, you probably freely associate them with "webs". But most spiders (there are about 40,000 species) don't spin webs at all. Silk, yes, but that's a different matter - because the range of uses to which spiders put their silk goes way beyond webs. Spiders began as burrowers, lining their lairs with silk, and a particularly ingenious contrivance is the hinged trapdoor that the evolutionarily primitive Mesothele spiders still use to shut out the world.
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