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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

How Do You Feel about Bugs?

How do you feel about bugs?

This question recalls a true story about my grandnephew, Aaron. When he was about 10, he was on the playground one day with some other boys when they spotted a praying mantis. Almost instantly, some of the boys began to torment it with a stick. Aaron protested, saying praying mantises were good and the boys should leave it alone. But the boys continued their “bug abuse,” eventually killing it.

A beautiful spider web… How do they do it?

When he got home from school, Aaron was still very upset about what had happened and told his mother. “Why did they have to kill it?” he asked. His mother told him she didn’t know why, but he had done the right thing by standing up for the praying mantis. She added, “I’m proud of you.” (Aaron today is studying biomedical engineering at Colorado State University.)

I can identify with Aaron for I have the habit of trying to save insects even when I find them in my house. If I spot a large black ant on the kitchen floor, for example, I don’t kill it. Instead I get a large used envelope and gently coax the ant inside. Then I carefully carry the envelope outside and deposit him (or her or it) on the grass. I do the same thing for beetles, spiders, and other critters. (I draw the line at flies and bugs that carry disease.)

I don’t know how you feel about insects or bugs, but let me share a few thoughts

Some insects are simply lovely…

about them with you. First, a few facts:

Scientists estimate that of the 9 million different species on earth, a whopping 90% of those species are insects. Here’s another fact: there are 1.4 million ants for every single human being on earth. Why are insects so successful at surviving? (Some even survived the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption!) First, their small size makes it easier for them to hide from danger or predators. Their small size also reduces their energy requirements. Imagine what an ant eats per day compared to what you eat! Insects also enjoy a wide diet. They are not picky eaters. You won’t find a baby fly saying to its mother, “But I don’t like broccoli!”

I once wrote a children’s song entitled “Are There Gentlemen Ladybugs?” I don’t know if this is a gentleman or a lady…

Many insects also have wings that aid in their ability to escape danger. We all know how hard it is to swat a sitting fly. Insects also frequently have tough exoskeletons. We humans and many other animals wear our skeletons on the inside. And finally, insects have (as one researcher put it) a “prodigious ability to reproduce.”  A termite queen can lay 6,000 eggs in a single day! Whew! I wonder if she gets Sundays off?

Insects are vital to the good functioning of planet earth. They help break down and dispose of wastes, dead animals, and dead plants. Imagine how messy earth would be if trees, animals, and plants

You have to admit that even this lowly blowfly has some gorgeous coloring. And notice those lovely transparent wings…

didn’t decay. Insects are an important food source for amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In some cultures, even the mammal homo sapiens eats insects. (I can hear some of you going “ugh!”) Finally, insects are vital to many ecosystems on earth because they aerate soil, control insect and plant pests, and pollinate blossoms. Concerning pollination, the Smithsonian website states: “The value of pollination of plants by insects is nearly incalculable.”

This might be a lacewing… or maybe it’s a dragonfly… not sure.

If you’re a gardener, you know there are some “good” insects that you want to invite into your garden: lady bugs, lacewings, hover flies, ground beetles, wasps, spiders, dragonflies, and (of course) honeybees. Many of these “good” insects feed on insects that are “bad” for your garden: aphids, caterpillars, mites, and such.

A bee doing its “bee thing” and getting dusted with pollen in the process.

Most insects live for only a few days, weeks, or months. But there are exceptions. Remember that termite queen I mentioned earlier? She can live for 50 years! Go figure! Final word: a recent study concluded that the average American home has 100 different species of arthropods in it (spiders, insects, centipedes, ladybugs, and such). Most are living in harmony with the house dwellers… So the next time you spot a spider in your bedroom, instead of smashing it with your slipper, consider herding it under your dresser or finding a large envelop and carefully coaxing the spider inside and…

How do YOU feel about bugs?

Is there anything about bugs that fascinates you? scares you? instills gratitude in you?

Be on the lookout for bugs this week. How many can you spot? How many can you name?

(All photos are from Pixabay)

PS: It is now Monday afternoon and I just got back from my week at Sophia Retreat Center in Atchison, Kansas. I want to thank the wonderful group of women who spent the week meditating with me on “Finding God in the Ordinary and Amazing.” I enjoyed our time together. And thanks also to the Mount St. Scholastica community of Benedictine Sisters there for their hospitality, prayerfulness, inspiration, and sense of fun.

Yes, there are many insect songs. I chose this one for children. I thought you’d enjoy its positive attitude toward insects and the unique insects depicted in the video:


I encourage you to respond below. My readers and I always enjoy hearing from you!


21 Responses

  1. Gee, I thought I was the only one that tried to herd insects back outside. A bee or hornet gets inside? i take a glass, put it over them, slip a piece of paper under the glass mouth and carry it outside. I say to myself, ” that is also one of God’s creatures.” Do I get a thank you when they fly away? I like to think so.

  2. Good morning, Melannie. First, kudos to Aaron! A sensitive child and no doubt a fine, young man. Sadly, I must admit I’ve been guilty of insecticide, especially when I was younger (I had a fear of ants, probably from watching the movie “The Naked Jungle” with Charlton Heston!); however, as I’ve aged I’ve become gentler, and, along with you and Pete, I, too, try to coax bugs out of the house and into the great outside. “All God’s creatures, great and small.”

  3. I’m ambivalent when it comes to insects! I find them fascinating but I draw the line when it comes to large spiders, locusts, praying mantis and cockroaches!!! I won’t go near them but try not to kill them.

  4. I grew up with a fasination of all living things…..even bugs. I have a “bug jar” that I use. Yesterday, there was one of those jumping spiders in the house and because it was on the ceiling and I couldn’t reach it, my son dutifully got the bug jar and put it outside.

  5. I never let anyone kill a spider in my house. Perhaps because I read Charlotte’s Web and I developed an affection for them. I find their webs beautiful … and fascinating. I have to admit that when I see a parade of ants indoors I holler, “HELP!” When my children were small, I tried to discourage them from stomping on ants, but I lost that round. I find caterpillars ugly, but I know that there is a butterfly inside each one, so I would not harm a caterpillar. I stay away from insects that scare me!

  6. When I see someone smash a bug I ask them gently to take a look at one under a magnifying glass or microscope and be in awe of their amazing structure and colors. They truly are a miracle of creation and show us how imaginative God is. I love bugs!

  7. I have loved bugs since childhood. From their delicate and colorful wings and tiny bodies, to the various buzzing sounds they create. On summer evenings, I would collect fireflies in a jar and bring them home. My dad would then sneak into my room when I was asleep and release them. Wonderful memories.

  8. In our house I’m the official bug rescuer. I use a 20 ounce plastic glass and a clear 10 ounce plastic glass to coax the spider safely outside – our spiders are pretty big sometimes!

  9. I have to admit that I swat flies and mosquitos but I am careful to take a glass & piece of paper and carefully put a lizard outside. In a way this makes no sense because I also gently bring monarch caterpillars and the milk weed they are crunching on into our screened-in back porch to protect them from the lizards!
    I enjoyed the song since I used to be a preschool music teacher. This morning I had my husband and 60 yr old daughter singing the “Ant Song”
    with me and then singing and doing ”Itsy Bitsy Spider”. We are never to old for “children’s” songs!

  10. Most critters I can deal with. Scorpions, on the other hand….shudder!
    I, with my unsurpassed knowledge of all God’s critters ( not), am puzzled by their value except to lie in wait for my finger or toe!

    1. Peggie, scorpions is where I draw the line! I was stung and have yet to lose my fear when I see one. Otherwise, my world of insects (living quite rurally) include hundreds of species of spiders, beetles, centipedes, etc. We all live together happily! Blessings.

  11. I also like, love, or tolerate all insects. I have a bee/butterfly garden and take many pictures of all the creatures living there. I am so happy that there are people out there like me. We need to protect them. There are many people in my neighborhood that spray poisons everywhere and it scares me how we are letting God’s earth and God’s creatures (and that includes us) to be wiped off the earth. So very sad. I pray every day on this.

  12. I wonder why it is the inclination of many young boys to torment small creatures. My brothers all did the same thing and it made me so sad! It is so endearing that your grand nephew was an exception and chose to demonstrate compassion towards one of God’s innocent creatures. That said, while I was writing this I noticed a large spider crawling up my sofa arm! Practice what you preach, Linda!

  13. I remember reading in Senator George McGovern’s memoir of his daughter Terry, who died an untimely death, that Terry would try to avoid stepping on ants when she was out for a walk. And the illustrious poet W. H. Auden would balk at killing spiders.

  14. Hmmm……….great reflection. Funny…………..I don’t remember you “saving” the spiders in the basement at Nazareth House!!!!! LOL!!!!

  15. Let’s see: 6000 eggs times 265 days times 50 years: That comes to 79,500,000 termites.With that many termites around, it s a wonder any building is still standing!

  16. Sister Melanie……And why did I think that I was the only one doing
    some of the things that you do. Insect life is God life also and I honor it
    for they too praise their Creator. My family knows how I feel and I model it for them every chance that I get. (not for termites!) Thanks for sharing.

  17. Does anyone have good things to say about “silver fish”? They still cause in me a knee-jerk reaction to squish them

  18. I live in Florida where geckos, love bugs, & gnats abound at times. I agree they all serve a valuable purpose but I want them to do their work outside of my home! I’m sure that’s where they’d rather be also. I am not a fan of bugs….especially ones that are large enough for me to see the expression on their faces! I steer clear of them as much as I can, however they are fascinating & very much appreciated?

  19. Using what God created to teach many use creatures large and small like Ms Paulus book “hope for the flowers” “If people want to learn to fly they have to give up being a caterpillar” you do the same with youblog and wonderful books you are one of God’s wildflowersThank you for flying.

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