INSECTS alter our behaviour out here at anytime of day or night, quite the opposite of the situation in Britain. A review of modern farming in England and its effect on what used to be called the countryside horrified this reader. Agribusiness practices had eliminated trees, hedges, and wetlands; wildlife including birds and insects were decimated by pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals.

The agricultural policy meant profit and mechanical efficiency were sacred, nature and village community life were not. However, a light appeared when popular and political opinion persuaded farmers to become their own conservationists, the EEC paying them an extra subsidy for growing weeds, wild flowers and planting trees and bushes in selected areas of their land – and insects were in business again, albeit on a small scale.

The seasonal swarms of flying ants or termites here usually occur in the late afternoon, dense enough to make cycling hazardous but wonderful for lizards and frogs who enlarge overnight after feasting. Sitting outside recently on a humid night watching the termites shed their wings after landing, I was sure I saw a frog smiling at this unexpected gift moving all round it.

The irregular, painful high-pitched drilling sound of one cicada in a bedroom causes countless man-hours of lost sleep, not helped by the fruitless search to find its source.

Mosquitoes are much more manageable at night once we’ve retreated inside our mosquito nets – but humans dream and have bouts of unconscious physical activity, hence the finding at sunrise of a leg poking out of the net with itchy red bites on it.

The local domestic spiders, minute body carried on unbelievably long thin legs, are a mixed blessing. Their webs catch flies, of course, but the sheer amount of web found everywhere is a major cleaning challenge. Overnight, webs appear between busy kitchen work surfaces or are draped from a vehicle’s side-mirror to its roof. But the magnificent golden orb spider, the size of your palm, takes web honours, their larders found out in deep bush, high above the ground, often stretching 20 or 30 feet between trees, its creator in the middle, handsome in his bright yellow carapace.

Casualty departments are used to insect victims. Having sudden noises in your ear after feeling something moving inside is a frightener but instilling a few drops of oil brings rapid relief and the retrieval of the guilty bug by syringing is usually a source of interest for all. Insects disappearing up into the nose are more problematic but uncommon thanks to sneezing. On one occasion, it proved impossible to remove a black beetle manually. We were about to administer an anaesthetic then someone recalled seeing a long-unused topical anaesthetic spray in a cupboard. I think it contained cocaine, amongst other ingredients. It did the trick, the victim feeling no pain as his bete noire was removed piecemeal. He was a policeman but we were careful not to tell him he’d been snorting coke.

For several years I found myself operating in fairly ramshackle hospital theatres, more or less open to mother nature despite the endless attempts by nursing staff to secure badly hung doors, holes in walls and ceilings, and ill-fitting windows. The principal threat during abdominal operations was the sausage fly which announced its arrival with a loud buzz.

Its body was fat and a creamy yellow. It had absolutely no sense of direction or equilibrium and would career down into the open abdominal cavity without warning. It was less damaging for the patient to manually remove it than use an instrument or suction, although this meant a delay while the surgeon changed sausage-contaminated gloves. In the end we found the best means of prevention on hot nights was to have an old tennis racquet to hand, the nursing student being taught how to bat the bug downwards.

Rhino beetles are also clumsy but stay outside operating theatres. Instead they shamble around everywhere else and just before dying, sprout wings and take, very briefly, to the air.

They then crash to the ground, usually on their backs, helpless and emitting distress calls. There are two reasons why passers-by turn them the right way up. Until you do, the distress calls will become louder and you will not sleep. Secondly, if you believe in reincarnation or want to hedge you bets, relieving their helplessness may score a few points if your next life is to be that of a bug.

Dr David Vost studied medicine at Glasgow University and works at a hospital in Swaziland. He and his family live on a farm in Northern Uganda near the Albert Nile.