Italian Language Blog

Insetti! Posted by on Jul 15, 2009 in Italian Language

Fa caldo! it’s hot! and from dawn to dusk the air resounds with il frinire delle cicale (the characteristic sound produced by the cicadas). I love this sound, not because I find it musical but because for me it represents the ‘soundtrack’ of summer. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t share my passion for this particularly screechy sound, and occasionally he throws a few pebbles at the walnut tree just below our terrazzo, hoping to silence the cicala who has taken up residence there, but without much success. In the evening however, when the relentless cicale seem to have finally exhausted themselves their place is taken by the more musical canto del grillo (cricket’s song).

Higher up in the mountains where the air is fresher, crickets and grasshoppers leap and dance in all directions with every pace that we take, and clouds of tiny blue butterflies tumble along. Occasionally a majestic, kite like, swallowtail butterfly glides past in search of nectar.

In fact this year there seem to be a vast array of colorful farfalle (butterflies), falene (moths), and other assorted insetti (insects) hovering around the flowers in our garden, and almost everyday, it seems, we discover a new variety. Unfortunately I don’t know the names of many farfalle, but one which I can always recognize is the cavolaia (cabbage butterfly), whose caterpillars feed on my cabbage leaves. There are plenty of them, and every day I have to check my baby cavolo nero (black cabbage) plants leaf by leaf, to prevent them becoming il pranzo dei bruchi (the caterpillars lunch).

Quest’anno le api sono tornate (the bees have come back this year), after a worry time last year when the bee population was decimated by a combination of disease and over zealous use of insetticidi (insecticides). This is great news for nature in general and for our orto (vegetable garden) in particular. Near our house there is a font with running spring water, and during the day when it is hot and dry  there are dozens of honey bees lined up along the edge taking a break and refreshing themselves during their busy day’s labor. The kaleidoscope of insects in our garden, and sometimes in the house, also comprises: a wide variety of vespe (wasps), the beautiful blue black api legnaiuole (carpenter bees), and the scary calabroni (hornets), which this year seem to be bigger than ever! One of the largest insects that we see is the cervo volante (stag beetle, literally: flying deer) which occasionally thunders past like some strange obsolete aircraft .

Unfortunately, the hot summer air also brings many unpleasant insects, such as le zanzare (the mosquitoes), le mosche (the flies), i mosconi (the blue bottles), and the painful tafani (horseflies). A couple of weeks ago we went for a walk high up in the mountains, and after a wonderful hour of tranquility and fresh air we found ourselves surrounded by a cloud of annoying mosche e tafani that joined us when we passed through una mandria di mucche (a herd of cows) in one of the mountain prati (meadows), and didn’t abandone us for a minute until we got back to the car! The worst insects that are bothering us a the moment, however, are le zecche (the ticks). This year we seem to be plagued by them, and I’ve had to learn how to remove them successfully, after having made a terrible mess of it the first time, pulling the body off and leaving the head embedded. Fortunately for me, my surgical efforts have so far been directed at my husband’s legs! He works outside a lot and had somehow managed to pick up a couple of ticks. I’ve discovered that it’s important to keep a supply of surgical alcohol in the house. When applied to the ‘infested’ area the alcohol helps to anaesthetize the tick which therefore releases its grip a little. At this point you need to twist it around with a pair of tweezers before pulling it out. Unfortunately I didn’t have any surgical alcohol when I performed my first ‘operation’, and my husband had to do a fair bit of painful excavating with a needle to remove the tick’s head. Luckily, according to our doctor, Lyme disease, a nasty infection carried by ticks, is not common in this area, but it’s still important to check for any sign of fever or infection.

The most spectacular insect of all only appears at night. This is la lucciola (the firefly), and every night since mid June we have had the privilege to watch this humble little insect perform its wonderful show. There are literally thousands of lucciole around our village and at night the woods are filled with their magical flashing lights as they execute their fairy dance. No man made show can beat this one! 

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  1. Kavita (Poesia):

    Midway through reading I’ve paused to let you know just how much I’m enjoying this & how
    easily (I hope) I’ll recall the vocab interwoven in a paragraph so well-written. Now I must read the rest. Grazie mille, Serena.

  2. Serena:

    Thank you Kavita for the compliments. I’m pleased that my blog helps you to learn Italian
    while enjoying it at the same time.
    Tanti saluti.

  3. Lydia:

    I contracted Lyme disease in Italy while on honeymoon – it has ruined my life – beware.

    • Serena:

      @Lydia Salve Lydia, I’m really sorry to hear that. What part of Italy were you in when you were bitten by the zecca (tick)

      Salute da Serena

Leave a comment to Serena