Undoubtedly, of all the benefits that I derive out of my home gardening pursuits, nothing gets me more elated than seeing a micro ecosystem being set up within the confines of a few potted plants. Within the soil it is the earthworms and millipedes (I introduce a few of these into my pots during the monsoon and they seem to thrive quite well thereafter, establishing a world of their own) working hard on transforming organic matter into compost. Observing frequent worm casts on the soil surface is such a delight – detrivores at work! And the occasional Myna bird then justifies its pecking order, so to say, within this food chain.
The other, very visible, food web manifests as a flamboyant, and sometimes a riotous, display a few feet above. While bees, wasps, moths and an assortment of flies vigorously compete to pollinate my butterfly blue pea, tomato, chilli and pumpkin flowers, the inchworms (Geometer moth caterpillars) voraciously devour the luscious mint, tulsi and tomato leaves. While the inchworms are frequently the flavour of the month for our inquisitive sparrows, the winged insects have thus far been blithely dunking their proboscis in the nectaries at will – but not anymore!
For, since the last week or so, a baby lizard has decided to stake claim for its rightful place in the food web. The less than 3-inch long saurian has made itself at home at a strategically significant spot amidst a profusion of butterfly blue pea vines, and looking at its bulging tummy, I can assuredly say that it has reaped rich profits; more so since even with the windows wide open, it refuses to enter my home.
So now I come to the moot point. This lizard is a Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus), a commonly encountered and much maligned creature which, despite its presence being unarguably beneficial for humans, finds itself tagged as an obnoxious appearance. While several facts have been presented in literature to persuade us into discarding our unjustified hatred for it, my intention through this post is quite simple – one picture of my tiny friend which will move even a staunch despiser into uttering, “how cute!”
And if you have read this far into the narrative, my petite buddy thanks you with a deft flick of its prehensile tongue.
– Narendra Nayak © 2021