Until I met naturalist, Steve Daniels the only time I thought about bugs was to swat them away! Now I am much more likely to notice their colour and habitat. Steve lives in south east Crete, and he’s another person I ‘met’ via blogging before we became friends. I am delighted that Steve has joined me on the blog today to tell us about his great new book, The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies.
Before we start, let me warn you that Steve has an uncanny knack of attracting creatures so you might like to check there is nothing slithering, scampering or buzzing around you. This little chap is a skink. I once sat with Steve, and his late wife, enjoying a seaside lunch in Crete. when, Steve rescued one from a cat. The skink then recovered resting on Steve’s arm while he ate food crumbs.
Now I’ve checked you for unwanted guests, Steve we can start our chat. How long have you lived in Crete?
We moved over in 2004 so it must be fifteen years now.
I know you live near the south-east coast, what made you choose that part of the island?
We first visited in 2003 and based ourselves in Bali on the north coast. We then hired a car and headed east, intending to circle the island clockwise. When we came to Ierapetra, we fell in love with the town and decided that here was where we wanted to be. It’s a working agricultural town with not a MacDonalds or a KFC in sight.
When did you develop an interest in the creepy-crawlies and bugs that make most people scream or flap?
I’ve had a passion for the outdoors since I was a boy but my interest in creepy-crawlies really started out here in Crete. There are so many of them, with wonderful colours and designs and amazing lifestyles. Plus, the great majority of them are not only benign but essential for our own wellbeing.
How do you describe The Quick Guide To Creepy-Crawlies?
It is a signposting book. The biggest problem in identifying ‘bugs’ is knowing to which of the thirty or more major groups they belong. Many of them change their appearance radically during their lives, think caterpillars to butterflies for instance, and many of them are very good at mimicking members of other groups. The Quick Guide allows you to place any of our little friends into the correct group and from there, you can go on to identify them to family, genus or even species level.
It must have been a huge undertaking. Where did you gain your inspiration?
I really began writing the book for myself. I had notes all over the place and just wanted to get them all into some sort of order. When I started seriously studying the world of the very small I found that I was reading great long scientific texts and getting nowhere fast. What I needed was a simple set of keys to tell me what was what. There wasn’t a book that covered everything in simple words so I wrote one.
How did you go about collecting the photos and information?
Most of the photos I took here in Crete in the course of my research into the fauna and flora of Lassithi. This I contribute to the world species database via iNaturalist and also use for my Crete Nature Blog. As for the information, I drew some from scientific papers but most comes from fifteen years of actively observing these little creatures in the wild.
The key to this book is the clever cross referencing that allows a reader to deduce what they have found. It must have been hard work to achieve this. How did you go about it?
Just with three simple questions;
- What is the one easily identifiable thing that makes this group of animals different from all the others?
- Can they possibly be confused with anything else? And, if they can,
- ‘How can I tell them apart?
These questions, along with notes on whether they are beneficial or harmful, whether they are likely to bite or sting you and whether you can eat them (a question asked with increasing frequency of late) is the essence of the book.
Ha Ha! You should send a copy to the next batch of contestants in I’m A Celebrity Get me Out of Here!
Meanwhile, with Christmas fast approaching your book will make a brilliant gift for anyone interested in the wildlife around the–whatever their age and wherever they live. Where can people buy your book?
After a well-earned rest, what are your plans for 2020?
They are very fluid at the moment, Yvonne. I rather suspect that they will involve switching between Crete and the UK. I have several writing projects in the pipeline, and I dare say I will be blogging again in the new year but from where is a mystery—even to me!
Well, I certainly advocate a life split between the UK and Crete. I’m sure many people will still refer to your successful blog, http://cretenature.blogspot.com/ as it’s a great read about your life in Crete. Wherever you are living, how can people keep up with your work?
They can follow me via my Naturalists Group on Facebook or on Twitter @cretenaturalist.
Thank you for joining me today, and I look forward to our next catch up whenever we are both back in Crete.
Thank you very much Yvonne.