Young country diary: welcome to the world of mini-beasts!

iomagine you are shrinking, becoming so small that the grass towers over you. Welcome to the territory … of mini-beasts! Wandering down my garden, I feel the summer sun on my face. I crouch down, watching universes under my feet. At normal size I observe a scuttling beetle, shining like a pool of ink. I see a centipede, its orange legs undulating. Then I go minuscule and see it in greater detail: colossal clacking pincers, armoured body, 80 legs. When I’m taller again, I can see new shoots of plants and, if I look down, a glistening earthworm poking out its head. In miniature, I journey inside an ant’s nest, marvel at its intricate halls and corridors, and wonder at the ants’ teamwork.

I ride on the armoured back of a land crustacean – normally woodlice would be tiny! Among the crèches of young lice, amoebas form slimy strings, and mould creeps over the fallen leaves. Do you know how herbivorous millipedes are different from carnivorous centipedes, or how ants tolerate woodlice because they are nature’s cleaners? How springtails jump, how amoebas are slime moulds and slime moulds amoebas? How miniature mobs move as one? Respect the universe under our feet. It’s perfectly beautiful.
Nathanael, 10

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