Creepy-crawlies a hit in Catlins

Hoverflies, fleas, bug myths and bag moths - there was plenty for youngsters to discover on a Catlins nature day yesterday.

The South Otago branch of Forest and Bird's junior arm - the Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) - ran the event at insect theme park Earthlore, near Owaka, as part of the Catlins summer programme.

Jake (5) and father Gareth Hallam, of Christchurch, hunt for bugs during the South Otago Kiwi...
Jake (5) and father Gareth Hallam, of Christchurch, hunt for bugs during the South Otago Kiwi Conservation Club family day at Earthlore, Owaka, yesterday.

zAmong the miniature creatures unearthed were several moths and butterflies, centipedes, worms, a somewhat menacing nursery web spider, and a mother slater and her brood, the latter found by 10-year-old Brooklyn Smith, of Balclutha.

Brooklyn said she loved all animals, but was particularly fascinated by creepy-crawlies.

"My favourite bug today has been the baby slaters with their mum.

"We only took her away to look at for a little bit because it was important to get her back to her babies."

Taking a break from peering under rocks, Brooklyn's father Stan said he was also enjoying his visit.

"It's something different to do.

"It's good to have a country break from the usual beaches, swimming and television for a change."

KCC co-ordinator Catriona Gower said events like the family day inspired young people to grow to love the natural world.

"When you become fascinated by and grow to love nature as a child, you carry that affection and sense of care into adulthood.

"It's just lovely to see everyone's smiles, laughter and excitement today."

The Catlins was a "wonderland" for nature lovers of any age, she said.

"Earthlore have created a magic place here, expanding biodiversity and spreading the word.

"Some of our out-of-town visitors have just been stunned by the abundance and variety of wildlife on show."

Brooklyn SMith (10), of Balclutha, fossicks for bugs at Earthlore, Owaka yesterday.
Brooklyn SMith (10), of Balclutha, fossicks for bugs at Earthlore, Owaka yesterday.

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