What The Wild Things Are

Insects are everywhere. They are by far the most common animals on our planet. Manipal, a suburb on the hinterland of coastal Karnataka provides a very conducive habitat for insects of different kinds. It is close to the sea, has plunging valleys, a lot of rainfall and more than adequate sunshine. All these factors make it excellent for various creatures to survive and thrive.

Rule number one to remember in Manipal is that anything and everything can fly. This might sound absolutely absurd but it isn’t a joke. One minute they are crawling on your bedroom floor and the next, they spurt out wings like Decepticon pretenders and fly around wreaking havoc. So it’s best not to go around curiously touching and clicking pictures up close of things that go bump in the night. But for the intrepid amateur entomologist, there are creatures which one may not get to see anywhere else in the country.

Manipal has a huge population of moths and not just of one kind. The most common one is Olepa Ocellifera. It is black in colour and it is what first comes to your mind when you think of moths. But the most intriguing kind is of Antheraea species. To be honest, these moths from afar look like Kolhapuri belt buckles. It is tan with archaic patterns on it. It spans to about 9 centimetres and can be pretty scary if you are not very fond of flying insects. Other than this you will find the regular moths sometimes with a red border and they belong to the Aloa species. And then we have the green coloured moths of Agathia species which camouflage themselves with leaves of different plants.

The next most common insect is the Praying Mantis. Now those of you who have seen Kung Fu Panda may have strange notions about what a praying mantis does, but it is majorly used in agriculture to control pests and they are commonly kept as pets.

Caterpillars are fairly abundant too. Owing to the high population of moths and butterflies, it is natural that there will be a high number of caterpillars too. The predominant species found in this region are of Atrophaneura and Acraea species. They do not cause any problems as such but caterpillar hair is a primary allergen and can trigger allergies resulting in skin rash or dyspnea. So any person with previous history of allergy ought to be careful around the rainy season.

Spiders are not so common but they are found mostly in bathrooms and corner of rooms which haven’t been cleaned for a while. Spiders of the genus Pholcus can be found. They are also known as daddy long legs, with good reason – they have a very small body and long thin legs.

All in all Manipal has an array of different insects and we benefit a lot by sharing our campus with them. So it is a paradise for anyone who has the slightest interests in bugs and their collection. So, come around, breathe in the fresh air, look closely and ask yourself, ‘Who let the bugs out’?

Written by: Anushna Sen

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