WELCOME BACK! Last week’s Animals In The Movies was Ratatouille at number 5, no shame in being at the bottom as it is still a fantastic film. This week we look at number 4. This is one of my personal favourites and if I had my way it would be at number 1. Number 4 is…
James and the Giant Peach
Now this film has it all, a lonely orphan boy raised by two wicked aunts and finds a magical peach in his back garden that grows to the size of a blimp where he befriends a group of bugs, or if you want me to be technical invertebrates. Little James is full of hopes and dreams, escapes from his nightmare and embarks on an epic adventure to New York City with his new found friends. This beloved and well known fairy-tale was created by the late Roald Dahl, and to this day is my favourite novelist. The imagination this man had went above and beyond, creating others classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, Matilda and most recently brought to the big screen The Big Friendly Giant the BFG. Tim burton was the well known director who bought this colourful story to life and I’m so glad he did. I mean how many movies do you get where they portray the bugs as the good guys?! Not many I can tell you. Below we are going to meet James’ brand new family and get to know them a little better.
The bugs brought to life
Grasshopper – Grasshoppers are not everyone’s favourite insect, purely because they jump, not many people like an insect that can jump 20 times the length of its body especially if they think it will jump at their face. Well newsflash they are not aiming for you face, its just bad luck they sometimes end up there when they are trying to get away from the human that is massice in comparison to themselves. For the record even if it did land on you, its completely harmless and if it did manage to bite I doubt you would feel anything.
- A Grasshoppers ears are on their abdomen (underbellies), these are located under their wings. This simple ear drum (called a tympana) vibrates in response to sound waves and in return allows the grasshopper to hear the songs of its friends. Amazing right?
- They are an amazing source of protein for many animals as well as humans. Worldwide these creatures are eaten. With one excepting being the Lubber Grasshopper (found in florida), which is known to be toxic if consumed.
- Like most insects they existed long before the dinosaurs.
Centipede – These animals have a horrific reputation mainly due to the fact they are venomous. But I will always keep repeating this. IT WILL ONLY BITE IF THREATENED. If you see one do not attempt to pick it up, that’s the smartest thing to do. Even though they are portrayed as highly aggressive I personally love the fact that Roald Dahl thinks highly enough of them to make him a good guy and if you’ve seen the film, a hopeless romantic as well as he boldly voices his feelings and emotions to Miss Spider.
- Centipedes are carnivores eating a variety of different insects and small prey making them very effective hunters with their venomous jaws to subdue their food.
- They do not have 100 legs like the name might suggest. They range from 15 pairs to 171, but will always have an odd number.
- They can regenerate lost legs. If a centipede is in danger it can escape by sacrificing its legs which will grow back each time they molt their exoskeleton (skeleton on the outside).
- They can make amazing mothers. Some species of centipede often stay with their young until they hatch by wrapping their body around the egg mass to keep them safe.
Ladybug – This small insect is a favourite to many different people. I go to so many schools and ask ‘what’s your favourite type of bug?’ and quite often it unanimously is ‘LADYBUGS’ because let’s face they are one of the more attractive species with their vibrant, beautiful and bold colours. So let’s learn a little about the little bug that would like to fly away home…
- There are around 5000 species of ladybug in the world, ranging in colours and sizes.
- They are well respected in the farming industry, due to their greedy appetites some species will consume plant eating insects such as aphids, and destroying these little pests helps protect the farmer’s crops.
- Their spots and colours are a warning. As most of you many know, bright colours in the animals kingdom is never a good thing, often meaning “WARNING WARNING do not come near me I am dangerous”
- They can secrete a foul tasting liquid from joints in their legs making them taste disgusting to predators.
- They can play dead. if scared enough obviously.
Spider – Miss Spider and also James’ mother figure in the movie is the best of all. Miss spider is seen at the very beginning of the movie as a lonesome little creature in the corner of his window. Since James is lonely and caring he befriends the arachnid, saving her from his two evil aunts and forms an unbreakable bond. A spider being one of the world’s most feared animals (for reasons I still can’t understand) is beautifully portrayed in this film as caring, loyal, graceful and fearless. Everything I would always expect a spider the size of a person to be. Of course it would never happen but I can dream right? Let’s learn some amazing facts about our eight legged friends.
- There are around 38’000 known species of spider found all over the world (except Antarctica)
- Spiders are an important part of the ecosystem, they eat harmful insects and pollinate plants, as well as being a valuable source of food for other animals.
- Spiders have blue blood.
- The largest arachnid in the world is the Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula getting up to 11 inches wide (as big as a dinner plate)
- The silk in a spider’s web is 5 times stronger than a strand of steel that is the same thickness. Scientists still cannot replicate the amazing strength of it.
- A Spider’s silk can help reduce bleeding. In the past people have put spider silk on their wounds as it also contains vitamin k.
- It is a myth that humans swallow an average of 4 spiders a night while they are sleeping. As if spiders are silly enough to crawl in your mouth to their doom.
Where do I start with earthworms? Let’s see disgusting, slimy, gross horrible animals. Let’s see what happens when we chop them in half. Yes, believe it or not I hear these statements all the time. Well let me put it to you this way for all you green fingered people out there, half your plants would not be there if it was not for earthworms. Yes some species of earthworm are an invasive species but a large part of the population is extremely helpful to the planet. In James and the Giant Peach, the earthworm is the kind hearted, slightly fearful one of the family but still steps up when it means helping James.
- They have no respiratory organs or lungs instead breathing through their skin.
- They are both male and female
- Both parts of the worm will not survive if you cut it in half, it is a myth. Only the head will still be alive. This is still pretty amazing but please do not go out and try it.
- Worms have 5 hearts
- They play an important part in creating rich soil that plants can feed off of. This can help the plants grow strong and bear lots of fruit or flowers.
There you have the members of James family. The fearless protectors of James and his Giant Peach. For those of you who did not see the movie, did he make it to New York and live happily ever after? You’ll have to watch and find
Thank you so much for reading today. What did you think about this being at number 4? Until next week everyone when I show you what we have at number 3.