Steve’s Nature Quiz #23


In last week’s #CreteNature blog we found a beautiful ivy hedgerow buzzing with life. Ivy has been associated with the Winter solstice since pagan times but in Germany they traditionally tie it to the outside of a church. Is this to protect it against

a) the devil

b) lightning

c) witches

Somewhat surprisingly the answer is lightning. Why this should be is a matter of speculation; perhaps someone observed that ivy covered trees did not get struck by lightning so often as bare trees? A similar thought was held by the druids who believed that Ivy’s Christmas counterpart, Holly, if self seeded near a dwelling, would protect the inhabitants from fire, nightmares and, once again, lightning.

More seasonal nature notes and other trivia in this week’s #CreteNature blog: The Springs of Paraspori

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Steve’s Nature Quiz #22


Mantis, to most of us, conjures up a picture of the familiar Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa). In this week’s #CreteNature blog I introduced you to another, the Mediterranean Mantis (Iris oratoria) but how many types of Mantis are there in the world?

a) 24

b) 240

c) 2,400

Mediterranean Mantis, Iris oratoria

Somewhat surprisingly there are over 2,400 species of Mantis in the world (and probably many more that we’ve yet to discover). They are a distinct order of insects (Mantodea) on a par with Flies (Diptera) or Beetles (Coleoptera) and there are fifteen different families of Mantises within the order Mantodea. Here in Greece the ancients believed that Mantises had supernatural powers and could show you the way home. I wouldn’t rely upon it; this one is pointing away from my front gate!

More on mantises, as well as frogs, flowers, stone chats and grasshoppers plus a bit…

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Steve’s nature Quiz #19


Last week’s #CreteNature blog featured butterflies, dragonflies and hoverflies but which one of these is really a type of fly?

Butterflies have four wings covered in tiny scales and, together with moths, form the order of insects called the Lepidoptera (originally from the Greek meaning scaly wings). Dragonflies also have four wings and, along with damselflies, form the order Odonata (again, originally from the Greek, this time for tooth – as is dentist – referring to their rather formidable mouth parts). Hoverflies, house flies, mosquitoes, midges and a host of others have only two wings and form the order Diptera (from the Greek again; di + ptera meaning two wings). So, whenever you see an insect with only two wings you can be sure that it is a type of fly.

More insect facts, some beautiful flowers and scenery as well as some rare Cretan frogs as the #CreteNature blog wends…

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Steve’s Nature Quiz #18


Kibbling? What on earth is that?

a) The brother or sister of a goat.

b) Separating the seeds from a carob pod.

c) The act of kissing and nibbling as practised in the courting rituals of many animal species (including us).

Fancy a kibbleMuch as I would like it to be either a) or c) the answer is the rather more mundane b). It’s carob picking season here in Crete and when the harvest has been gathered in there will be an awful lot of kibbling going on around the villages. Why not tag along with us as we tour the upland villages of east Crete amid the autumn flowers and wonderful wildlife in Series 6 of the #CreteNature blog?

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Steve’s Nature Quiz #17


Is Turkey Tangle Frogfruit effective against

a) suppurating sores

b) stones

c) the common cold

According to Sanskrit literature Turkey Tangle Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is/was considered by the Hindus to be efficacious against all three. Phytochemical analysis by the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology at Loyola College in Chennai, India in 2015 showed that “All the extracts from Phyla nodiflora had inhibitory effects in both bacteria and fungi. The results of this study clearly proved that (the) plant is a potential source of natural antimicrobial agents.” Good for suppurating sores then and possibly against the common cold if it is bacterial and not viral in origin but not necessarily against stones.

More fascinating facts and photos in this week’s #CreteNature blog: Ferma’s Covert Coves

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Steve’s Nature Quiz #15


In the UK there were an estimated 3,000 breeding pairs of Collared Doves in 1964. How many breeding pairs were recorded in 2008?

a) 300

b) 30,000

c) 300,000

collared dove 260208 White River

In the USA less than fifty escaped from captivity in the Bahamas in 1974. They can now be found in virtually every U.S. State as well as Mexico. Such is the phenomenal spread and increase in the population of the Collared Dove that the answer is c) 300,000 breeding pairs were recorded in the UK in 2008, a one hundred fold increase.

Taken from this week’s Crete Nature Blog: In The Quietest Moments

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Steve’s Nature Quiz #10


What is the simplest way to recognize a beetle?

a) from its head

b) from its wings

c) from its legs

3 Cryptocephalinae180517 Lower GullyAlthough the head and legs can tell you a lot about an insect, the simplest way to tell a beetle from other insects is from its wings. The forewings of a beetle (called elytra) are hard and cover the back. So when you see an insect with a line down the center where the two elytra meet you can be sure that you are looking at a beetle.

Taken from this week’s #CreteNature Blog: A Bush Full of Beetles

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