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.
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
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!”
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
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.”
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.
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!