Autumn colours

We think of autumn, we think of autumn colours. And in spite of non-stop sunshine and warm summery days, plantlife in Málaga is also thinking of autumn. The poplars and larches are turning yellow, the vine-leaves are turning red and brown, the seedheads are nodding on the verges, attracting a world of noisy finches.

It’s not just that leaves that provide colour, though. I notice the bugs in autumn. Perhaps it is because some of the most exciting birds have flown away south, so I spend a bit more time looking down and less looking up. The birds that I notice in autumn tend to be down among the leaflitter themselves – goldfinches and chiff-chaffs, black birdsand blue rock thruses, stone chats and sardinian warblers. Some of these will aim to eat-up a few of my bugs.

Dancing with its shadow – Mediterranean Mantis, Sayalonga


Bugs like this:

I see a lot of mantids in autumn, when the larger adults seem to be out and easily seen.


Mediterranean Mantis, Árchez


Most common are the Praying and the Mediterranean mantises. A little hard to distinguish (unless in threat pose) but look at the eye/head shape and the shape of the abdomen (slender or thick) of these four and you see a pattern.

Praying Mantis, Sayalonga
Praying Mantis, ‘Goat Path’, Cómpeta



Wierd, ever-hungry  hunters, I love mantids. Not safe for a Grass-hopper, though.




As you know, I see a lot of dragonflies in autumn. Dragonflies are beautiful and showy, drawing the eye with their impossibly adept flight, hard to pin down.I’ve already posted about rescues of Keeled Skimmers, and also see Darters and Emperors, though i.d. depends on the damn things staying still for half a second!


Keeled Skimmer, Orthetrum coerulescens
Immature male




Mature male




See the development of the beautiful dusty blue abdomen of the male Skimmer, from nothing, to partial to almost full in these shots.


There are also still butterflies – lots of whites this October – and moths, from a battered Oak Eggar to a magnificent Mediterranean Tiger moth, to enjoy in the autumn.

Oak Egg
Mediterranean Tiger Moth



There are also, as always, less showy bugs to see.


They include the agents of earthmaking -the beetles and bugs that will help turn leaflitter into soil, like this millipede or the little brown fuzzy bugs I find among the flower pots. They include the agents of earthmaking -the beetles and bugs that will help turn leaflitter into soil, like this millipede or the little brown fuzzy bugs I find among the flower pots. They may not be ideal friends for my plants, but they are good in a composting pot (as long the gardener separates them from the fresh soil before using it).

Two fuzzy bugs during the population-boom
Lagria hirta

One year we had a population explotion of fuzzy bugs in my village. Every morning you would find dozens on the cars, the railings, the doorways, the post boxes, and in the plant pots. They were everywhere! It lasted just over a week, then they all disappeared. In the years since I’ve never seen more than two at the same time.


Sometimes I see bugs that just don’t know the summer’s gone. The wasps have taken forever to notice the change in the seasons this year. We’ve had high temperatures and sunshine pretty well from 24th August (it rained on the 23rd) through to 17th October (rain is due 18th), so I suppose you can’t blame them for noticing the change. And this lovely snail, seen on a forest track was still in drought mode and like to stay that way until we get some proper rainfall. (Tomorrow, apparently)

Aestivating snail

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Grass Hopper

Born near the sea on the east side, grew near the sea on the west side; more than 15 years down here in the south, hoping about between the mountains and the Med. Madly in love with the Natural world!

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