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Meet Marlies Vaz Nunes

Updated on April 11, 2017
Marlies in Kastoria, Greece
Marlies in Kastoria, Greece | Source

Who is Marlies?

Well, what shall I tell you about myself?

I grew up in Amsterdam, but during my childhood, my parents took us children often along to the outdoors. There I learned the love for nature. In those days I liked to take insects or tiny water creatures home, which I kept in a small terrarium/aquarium to observe them. At a somewhat later age, I started keeping a red cheek turtle (which, unfortunately, died very soon), mice, gerbils and my last pet was a rat.

Nowadays I don't have any pets anymore. In my spare time, when I do not write, I like to make walks on the beach, in the Dutch dunes or other places outdoors, where I am always on the look-out for interesting plants, animals and, of course, insects, which I try to capture with my digital camera.

My other passions are reading, and - I have just started again after a few years - knitting.

The oldest building of the University of Amsterdam - in the publc domain
The oldest building of the University of Amsterdam - in the publc domain | Source

Marlies's life as a scientist

I went to the University of Amsterdam, where I studied biology and specialised in insects. After my PhD on the biological clock in the two-spotted spider mite, I ended up without a job.

I applied for research grants all over the world and finally got one in Greece: a grant to do research on spider mites for nine months at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. That was in 1983.

After my return home early '84, I had a succession of short-term grants to work at the Wageningen University (modelling the biological clock of flower induction in soybeans for 6 months); Imperial College, Silwood Park Campus (aphid biological clocks for 3 months and modelling locust locomotion for 5 months); The University of Edinburgh (biological clock of blow flies for 12 months).

A period of 18 months unemployment followed, but then I found myself back at the Silwood Park Campus, where I remained on a series of research grants, from early 1990 until the beginning of 2000, working on the biological clock of aphids.

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki - The main library

Photo by Chggr
Through this campus I walked every day to my work in 1983-84.

The Faculty of Agriculture - In this building I worked for nine months

Faculty of Agriculture
Faculty of Agriculture

I took this picture in September 2012 when I visited Thessaloniki and northern Greece for holidays. I was saddened by the sorry state the building is in right now.

Photo taken in 2012 by Marlies Vaz Nunes

University of Edinburgh, the King's Buildings - Here I worked in 1987-88

Imperial College at Silwood Park - I worked in the Lees Building on the right from 1990 until 2000

Photo by Mick Crawley

Marlies with her rearing cages
Marlies with her rearing cages | Source

Marlies in Germany

From England I moved to northern Germany, to go to work at a small biological control company, that controls pests in greenhouses.

My task was to rear a number of beneficial insects, mainly lacewings and parasitic wasps, as well as their prey (aphids) and the food plants of these aphids (broad beans). On the photo you see me with the rearing cages.

This work I did for five years, after which I returned to Amsterdam, where I still live, now.

Over the years I learned

much about biological control of pests in the garden, the greenhouse and indoors, including the use of beneficial insects.

My lensography about biological control of garden pests

At the moment consisting of 16 pages on pests and 5 on beneficial insects

Biological control of garden pests
Not many people are happy when they see insects in their garden or vegetable plot, let alone when these insects appear in great numbers. No pesticides! - In ...

The common green shield bug
Palomena prasina, or common green shield bug (Order: Hemiptera; Family: Pentatomidae), belongs to the most important family of shield bug. From above they are...

The vapourer moth - wingless females and hairy caterpillars
The hairy caterpillars of the vapourer moth, Orgyia antiqua (Order: Lepidoptera; Family: Lymantriidae) belong to the prettiest we know. They are grey with re...

Marlies on the southern beach on Crete
Marlies on the southern beach on Crete | Source

My hobbies

My big hobby is writing. During my stay in England in the 1990s, I followed a home course writing short stories and articles. This course improved my writing skills and increased my English vocabulary.

I had several articles published in gardening and writing magazines, and also columns, letters to the editor and other snippets.

Back in Amsterdam, I continued to write, but now mostly in Dutch (an exception being my squidoo lenses!). I got a few short stories published, as well as numerous articles.

Eeverything I wrote, you can find here: in

My other hobbies are:

  • reading - some of my favourite authors are Ian McEwan, Steinbeck, John Updike, Saul Bellow.
  • walking
  • cycling
  • knitting

Various articles

About writing and other stuff.

How to design your really weird alien
Do you write fantasy or science fiction and do you need a bizarre-looking alien for your story instead of one of those human-in-disguise aliens often shown i...

How to organise your notes
As a writer you should always carry a notebook and pen or pencil with you everywhere you go, to jot down ideas that come up out of nowhere, snatches of overh...

How to keep track of lenses that need updating
It is easy to keep track on when you updated your lenses last. You only need to go to your dashboard, click on the arrow next to "edited" and there...

Inspiration for writers: insects and the emotions they evoke
As we all know, insects can cause a great variety of emotions and moods. Writers, therefore, could use insects (and spiders) to evoke the emotions and moods ...

Fun with gerbils
This page is not about how to look after gerbils. There are enough places where you can find this information, as I will let you know later. A mongolian gerb...

What to do and see in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam
The Jordaan is located to the west of the main canals, the socalled 'grachtengordel', and lies between the Brouwersgracht (north), the Lijnbaansgracht (west)...

How and why did sex evolve?
The existence of sex is puzzling, because many organisms, such as certain plants, some reptiles (e.g. whiptail lizard; Family: Teiidae, in particular the gen...

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    • marlies vaz nunes profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 

      6 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      @Aunt-Mollie: Thank you, Aunt-Mollie! But ... I'm a woman. ;-)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You are a very interesting man. I've battled spider mites in every garden I have ever had, including potted plants on a balcony. If you ever find a real cure for them, please let me know. It seems to me that by the time you notice them, it's too late to save the poor plant.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      You are fascinating! I am so impressed by your scientific life and writing. I am a novelist, so at least we have a bit of fiction in common.

    • LizardKing3 profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice to meet you!

    • kristalulabelle profile image


      6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Nice to meet you! What an interesting career!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a pleasure to get to know you a bit. I spend my childhood outdoors as well and grew up with many pet but, like you, don't have any right now.

    • Millionairemomma profile image


      6 years ago

      Fascinating! Thank you for sharing yourself.

    • bilafond lm profile image

      bilafond lm 

      6 years ago

      Never been to Holland, actually never been to Europe. One day may be. Like your hobbies. thanks for the lens

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      6 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Wonderful article! Sounds like you came by your 'bug loving' career naturally from your parents taking you out for lots of nature activities. :)

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image


      6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Nice lens....bugs are very cool creatures and so underrated...thanks for sharing your life with us!

    • rallo-smith profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice meeting you Vazzie.

    • nextyear lm profile image

      nextyear lm 

      6 years ago

      Hi vazzie, nice to have you here. This is a wonderful personal page.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Vazzie! Greetings from a fellow knitter and bug enthusiast! Loved your lens on centipedes!

    • Brandi Bush profile image


      6 years ago from Maryland

      Wonderful! My son would get along with you very well. He wants to be a scientist and loves bugs, plants, etc... Very nice to meet you here on Squidoo! :)

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      You have been able to do so many things. We are blessed to benefit from your knowledge. Appreciate your work.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      it's really cool for you to write about took alot of courage.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Nice to meet you, I am very interested in biological pest controls. And I like bugs (most of them). Ticks are the only ones I have trouble with and usually use diatomaceous earth in their hangouts. Thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      He Vazzie! Nice to learn new thing about you.

    • marlies vaz nunes profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 

      6 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      @Auntie-M LM: Indeed, it was - and is!

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      Vazzie, I've so much enjoyed your insect lenses, so far - it's a great pleasure to learn more about who you are!

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 

      6 years ago

      Vazzie, so nice to get to know you. Here I thought you were all work and no play, but your life sounds like it was blessed with fun.

    • marlies vaz nunes profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 

      6 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      @marlies vaz nunes: But if you would like a (unpublished) English story, you can download that via this link for free.

    • marlies vaz nunes profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 

      6 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      @EEWorkouts: The stories I mentioned are in Dutch and can be found here

    • EEWorkouts profile image


      6 years ago

      Where can we find some of your short stories? I'm interested.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful to get to know you better here on Squidoo - blessed by a SquidAngel!


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