Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Corsica’s insect life

Many people visiting Corsica only experience the local insect population via the fangs of the local mosquitoes, though these interactions are mercifully less than in days gone by thanks to intensive treatment of the island with DDT during World War II.

Mosquitoes drove the Genoese out of their fortress at Porto Vecchio, and had been responsible for the forcible relocation of two bishoprics on the east coast some centuries earlier. Fortunately, it’s possible to take a more detached view of Corsica’s insects these days.

As we left to go on our walk in the Desert des Agriates the other day (where incidentally we saw masses of butterflies), I noticed a large, green praying mantis on the wall of our apartment building. He wasn’t bothering anyone, just stuck there on the wall, all three inches of him, waving his forelegs around.

We see a lot of local wildlife on that wall. Last June, we had a bit of a gathering of crickets in Lumio and again, they seemed to take a liking to our warm wall in the evening and early morning. One of them was so large (see above - at least as long as our friend the praying mantis) that we rushed to wikipedia to see if it was a locust. Unlikely, it would appear, as there weren’t enough of him.

I have yet to see either of Corsica’s rather more scary insect residents – the Corsican Black Widow spider and the local variety of scorpion. If I do, you’ll be the first to hear about the encounter. In the meantime, why doesn’t someone write a book about Corsica’s insects? They are varied, interesting and (in some cases) surprisingly large. I’d buy such a book even if it were only in French.

Hot walls, especially in the evening, seem also to be a good place to spot geckos. I hadn't seen any for years, but saw several this year on the side of houses: of a deserted house on Cap Corse (east), of a house alongside a footpath going down into Ile Rousse, and on a holiday block by the beach in Algajola. Are they becoming commoner?
Robert, we do get geckos on that wall too - and you can see why! They must think the place is a larder put up for their benefit! DTR
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