Consider this scene: During the day, I had noticed a particular large leaved sprig on my curry leaves plant and when making dinner went up to my terrace in the dark to pluck it. Got to the plant, plucked the sprig and started walking away when I realized that (a) it smelt “funny” and not exactly like curry leaves and (b) it was HEAVY. Looked closely in the dark to find a LARGE caterpillar sitting on it. Think of the caterpillar from that children’s favourite book – “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, the one that looked like it had definitely overeaten.
Even about 2 years back I would have probably screamed loudly enough to scare my neighbours. I realized the changes in my feelings towards the insect kingdom when all I did was walk back and place the leaves back gently at the base of the pot. Why you might ask? It was because I recognized that the caterpillar was nearly large enough to start turning into a cocoon and soon become a lovely butterfly. This particular one actually, the Common Mormon:
Butterflies don’t just provide that lovely splash of colour to our surroundings; they are very important pollinators, all the more necessary for terrace or balcony gardens. Another much maligned insect that is literally the most efficient pollinator around is the bee. I will admit that I did get tense at an incursion of bees into my home, when the kids were around and I felt very protective, but I blame it completely on improper removal of a hive at my neighbour’s. It was quite depressing to see the dead bees on my kitchen floor (without my having sprayed anything on them as I have NO chemical sprays around at home), and I learnt only later that they don’t survive for long away from their hive.
Another favourite “good” insect is the ladybug that is one of the most efficient pest control mechanisms available as it feasts on those aphids, mealy bugs and many other pests that strike fear in the heart of every urban farmer J. If you’re fortunate and they arrive in your garden on their own, there’s nothing like it. And don’t expect them to be only red and black, there are other colours available like this brownish one as well.
Before signing off, I wanted to share this video where my garden and I were featured on News9, with a big thanks to Citizen Matters as it is this blog that brought about the contact with Vivek.