Her real name is Dr V Shubhalaxmi but her passion for all things crawly but not-so-creepy has made her famous as The Bug Lady.
“People might love to see birds and animals but no one really cares about bugs. In fact, most of us run towards them to kill them. It is this apathy towards insects that makes me work more in the field of Entomology.
People don’t realise how important these tiny things are to maintain our food security and ecological balance,” explains Dr Shubhalaxmi. She conducts regular bug walks for the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and also holds an Entomology course.
The city is home to hundreds of different bugs; we invited Dr Shubhalaxmi to list six interesting ones for bug-lovers to spot.
Spot these in summer
This is the first of the noisiest insects that makes its presence felt by its high-pitch shrill in wooded areas. It is known for its mysterious life cycle where the juvenile spends long months underground feeding on root juices while the adult feeds on the bark juice to survive for a month.
This one is a nasty looking wasp that feeds on spiders, crickets and even caterpillars. It paralyses its prey with its sting and later stacks them into its underground nest, which it closes after laying an egg. The babies after hatching feed on the live food, which has been provided by their mother.
Red Cotton Bug
These are commonly found pests on cotton crops during summers, inside the forests where the Red Silk Cotton trees grow. They feed on seed oil and make them incapable of germination; nature’s way of balancing the abundant seed supply.
Wherever the Giant Milkweed (Rui) is seen growing during monsoon the poisonous plant is seen suffering from heavy infestation of Painted grasshoppers. They feed on the leaves and acquire the host plant poison which is stored in their bodies, thus giving them protection against predators.
By end of summer, the summer cicadas die out leaving space for monsoon cicadas that are much smaller in size. Interestingly, they are less noisy and are usually seen in groups.
Monsoon is marked by glowing fireflies in wooded areas. While one encounters the firefly (male) flying in the air, very few notice the ferocious glow worm (female) who is wingless and carnivorous. She is known to devour land snails.