Spring has arrived and so have the bugs. Though I’ll be the first to acknowledge that all creatures in God’s wondrous creation are worthy of respect and the right to live, I think I stepped on a caterpillar when I went out to check the mail Monday afternoon.
I swear, it wasn’t on purpose. It’s just that we have a lot of trees on our property, and these furry things have suddenly appeared everywhere over the last few days. I realized at the last moment what was about to happen, and I lurched sideways in an attempt to save him, or her, or it. It was too late.
I wiped my shoe in the grass after the unfortunate incident, which hardly seemed like a fitting ceremony to honor this bug’s brief life. But I wasn’t about to dig my high school “Taps” bugle out of storage because I think it’s covered in spider webs. I didn’t want this insecticidal spree to spiral any further out of control.
It did make me pause to think, however, how we immense humans swagger through the natural world with so little thought for the beasts beneath us. We swat flies, squash roaches and eat Wendy’s hamburgers, all with complete disregard for the welfare for the lower life forms we are destroying in the process. To me, it seems about time we do a little something special for the entomological kingdom to show that we care.
There are literally trillions of these guys and gals scurrying amongst us, so it’s impossible to show my gratitude to each and every individual for whatever purpose it is they serve in the grand scheme of life. All one man can do is bring one pest into his home, give that bug a special day he will always remember, and hope that the karma and the word of mouth when he returns to the wild will allow me to live a slightly less guilty life.
“There is at least one good, honorable man among the humans,” he can report to his colleagues. “Don’t sting the chunky guy with the glasses.”
Below are some highlights from the day I tried to balance the scales in my little corner of the world.
Keeping up online
Humanity has developed some awesome technological devices to entertain and educate us, so I thought I’d share one of these with the Giant Peruvian Dinosaur Ant I brought into my house. Here, the ant gets a chance to check his email and catch up with a few friends on Facebook. You may recognize the home page from AOL on the screen behind him, but we can’t fault a creature who has barely emerged from the Mesozoic era for visiting such a primitive webite. Besides, where else could he catch a quick update on whether or not Kate Gosselin was going to be leaving “Dancing With the Stars”?
Exercise is a great stress-buster
Too often, insects encounter us via the soles of our shoes, and that rarely makes a good first impression. I thought I’d turn the tables a bit by offering to bring my new ant friend along with me on my mid-day jog, allowing him to ride along on the top of my Nikes. We had a great run in the warm air heavily scented with azaleas and dogwoods. I think he struggled to hold on at a few points in the route, but that simply meant he got a good workout as well. We smiled as we passed the playground at the daycare center, where children laughed and squealed with innocence we can barely recall. We chuckled at the passing SmartCar that would barely hold the two of us. We recoiled in horror as I accidentally inhaled a gnat. We were tired at the end of the two-mile jaunt, but it was a good kind of tired.
A well-earned supper with the family
By dinnertime, the giant ant had virtually become a full-fledged member of the household, and joined my other animal companions for their evening meal. Taylor (left) and Harriett didn’t mind at all sharing their food with their new brother. There was enough for everyone in the bountiful indoor world, where predators and prey are merely movements on the other side of a thick, protective sliding glass door. When Taylor was finished with his bowl, the ant leapt off his back, directly into the remaining Cat Chow, frolicking in the plenty that was unknown out in the yard, where he had to fight thousands of rivals for the smallest scrap of potato chip. Soon, both his abdomen and thorax were full, and a contented evening of relaxation could begin with his new family.
As the day drew to a close, it was time to scrub away the accumulation of grime that comes with a busy schedule of fun. I wasn’t about to allow this disease-carrying vessel of filth and bacteria in my bathtub or shower so we arranged a quick dip in the toilet. He splashed merrily in the water as I tried to work a loofa into the crevices of his exoskeleton. He wanted some tub toys to play with, so I wadded up a ball of toilet paper and tossed it in. Tragically, the wad knocked him into the deep end of the bowl. His drowning was quick and mostly painless for him, and quite convenient for me, as I simply had to flush him away.
Somewhere, in a sanitary sewer deep beneath the city, he’ll whisk past millions of his insect friends, who will offer a touching final tribute to one who was briefly able to bridge two worlds.