PHOTOS BY VINCENT LAO
GIANTS AND CLICKS
I am glad that a number of Cicadas include our bedroom in their tour itinerary, despite their limited time to fly around. My kids are very much intrigued to see this colorful Insect who “looks like a giant Fly”.
A Cicada flying into our window screen would produce a twang. But once or twice, an Insect banged against the screen. I knew from the sound that this was no Cicada— perhaps one of the giants, a Salagubang perhaps? Upon inspection, I can see that the culprit was no Salagubang (Rhinoceros Beetle) but is also one of the giants indeed.
The creature happened to be a Click Beetle and was as long as my ring finger. They were called Click Beetles because when you held them in your hand or put them on the floor upside down, they would snag the two hooks of their head to their upper wing case and make a strong click.
They were so fun to watch because the click was loud, and their powerful movement could propel the Beetle a foot up into the air. On rare occasions, with really big specimens, a Beetle would accidentally pinch my skin while doing their clicking, and it would really hurt.
BEFRIENDING THE BUZZERS
There were hundreds of other Insects who would visit us on a nightly basis. There were Mantises and Walking Sticks of different sizes. Of course, there were the swarms of Mosquitoes outside, pesky little vampires who were always trying to get in.
Our most common visitors were actually Honeybees and it was no mystery why. We knew of a beehive or two around the area, and probably more that we do not know of.
I did not really mind having Bees as neighbors. When I was about 10 years old, I dreamed of having my own apiary. So, I caught as many bees as I could with my bare hands and tried befriending them by giving them flowers. Needless to say, I liked bees, but there were other more sinister neighbors hiding among the thicket.
SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT
Bee stings? We Palawan kids were used to that. There was this one time that I actually let a Bee sting me, just so I could remember how it felt. But we were afraid of one thing when we went about our exploits. To be able to get wild fruits like guava, we had to wade through the tall cogon grass or through thick bushes. The sudden yelp, “Putakti!” would send us all running for cover.
Putakti are tiny Wasps who build tiny nests as big as your twin Kitkat bar. However, there are rare instances when a colony would build it really big, as big as a person’s open palm. Most adults in the barrios just shrug the Putakti off, since these are less than half an inch long and their stingers have difficulty penetrating through long sleeve shirts and long pants. They are also not aggressive, as long as you don’t literally bump into their nest, they will leave you alone.