I’ve just received the approved ‘blads’ for House guests, house pests. They’re based on a few pages of sample text I wrote when the publishers agreed the contract. Their main purpose is to be shown off at bookfairs, to secure foreign rights and to drum up trade interest. I’m very pleased with the look of them. [Illustrations/design by Morphart Creation, Hintau Aliakse, Yingko and Shutterstock.]
For the last year I’ve been trawling the latest research and the strangest anecdotes ready for an autumn writing blitz. I’ve more or less completed the Appendix/ rogues gallery/ identification section. My favourite so far is Scobicia declivis, the lead cable borer also known as the ‘short-circuit’ beetle. Primarily a wood-borer, it will also damage soft metal (lead) casings, probably because of textural confusion rather than nutritional need, hence its common name, and this leads it to cause a unique type of damage. It has a penchant for the lead sheath of aerial telephone cables, close to where they attach to a building. The bores are made next to the cable support rings which are thought to give the beetle enough leverage to chew into the metal. In California, the damage is only revealed on the first serious rains after the adult beetle has emerged, when water entering the borehole causes short-circuits. Brilliant.