Ali Sparkes: Ants drink aphid poo

Hello HayFeverites!

Look. Here are six things you should know.

  1. Ants drink aphid poo/wee.
  2. Spiderman is inaccurate. That webbing stuff should not be shooting out of Peter Parker’s wrists…  no… it should be coming out of his bottom. Sorry, Mary Jane, but it’s true. That’s how spiders do it.
  3. Geckos may look cute but they sometimes fight to the death.
  4. Chameleons show their emotions through colour.
  5. Daddy Longlegs will dump a leg if they’re freaked out enough.
  6. When grasshoppers get really scared they throw up.

All this I have learned since writing the SWITCH series.  In my stories, Josh and Danny – identical twins who are nothing like each other – keep getting SWITCHed into first creepy crawlies (spiders, flies, grasshoppers, ants, daddy longlegs and great diving beetles), then amphibians (frogs and newts) and then reptiles (lizards, chameleons, turtles, geckos, anacondas and alligators).

So I had to get to know a lot of spiders, insects, amphibians and reptiles. I have held a natterjack toad (cute but smelly) and cuddled up with a chameleon (slow and sweet – wanted to take him home) and studied house flies in awe (yes, I know they have disgusting habits, but I now think they’re also pretty amazing!).

Research is one of the best bits about being an author. You get to spend time doing the weirdest things for your job! One of those weird things was meeting up with my old biology teacher – John Buckley – so he could mark my homework again, three decades after I left school.! John’s not a teacher these days – he’s a herpetologist  – a reptile and amphibian expert! So who better than to check all the facts in my stories?

Here we are with one of the stars of the ReptoSWITCH series – a huge Leatherback Turtle! (OK, so it’s an inflatable one… but it was still very exciting!)

So – I’m back in the Starlight Theatre this year (10am on Monday 4 June) and also doing some readings under the Creature Canopies in the Hay Fever Courtyard on Tuesday at 11am. And it’s all going to be very SWITCHY…

So get ready for lots more insecty info and reptilian ramblings as we dip into the adventures of Josh and Danny and their brilliant but batty next-door-neighbour Petty Potts, creator of the thrilling but perilous SWITCH spray which turns our heroes into creepy crawly and scaly creatures… from ants to alligators!

Can’t wait to see you there! But in the meantime, find out loads more facts about creepy crawlies and reptiles – and play the amazing CRANE FLY CRASH computer game – at

Catch Ali at the festival on Monday 4 June, 10am.

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