I want to appeal to your nobler motives and challenge you to achieve a higher level of beliefs. I want to inspire you to be more compassionate and understanding toward bugs. To respect bugs.
Yes, I said bugs.
Those multi-legged creepy, crawly, ugly, scary, slippery, sticky, slimy, rapidly reproducing bugs. Yes, those. You should be more compassionate and understanding toward bugs. Bugs deserve our respect. Why, you might ask?
According to the Entomological Society of America, there are nearly 10 quintillion insects in the world. That is a 1 followed by 19 zeros. And there are more than 1 million different species of insects and maybe as many as 30 million insect species yet to be discovered. All of us, everywhere in the world, are only part of one species. Bugs deserve our respect.
Insects are tough. A lot tougher than we are. A type of African midge larvae can withstand submersion in liquid helium. Maybe that doesn’t sound like such a grand feat. But liquid helium is -270 degrees Celsius. With just three more degrees, we have reached absolute zero, where theoretically all life ceases to exist. Liquid helium makes the Arctic look like Florida.
Some insects, like wood roaches, and some bark and dung beetles, even share parental responsibilities with the female. And, by far the big winner is the burying beetle. He remains with his brood throughout their development, and should the female disappear, he takes over all of the parenting responsibilities. Now, that’s a man worth mating for!
The collective intelligence of insects is incredible. When it rains, why don’t ants drown in their ant hills? Because some of them band together, joining legs, and form ant rafts to float. Others use their bodies to plug the water holes, saving everybody.
And insects don’t need big nuclear weapons to protect themselves. They don’t even need guns. The bombardier beetle is an example of one that has sophisticated defense machinery. If you pick up a handful of these beetles, you will drop them immediately, screaming from the burn that they leave on your hand.
They combine two chemicals in a violent chemical reaction that reaches the temperature of steam. Then they emit this, at a rate of 500 times per second. And with excellent aim too—swiveling around like a machine gun with marksman accuracy. How many people do you know have a machine gun out of their back end, shoot 500 times per second, and have perfect aim without even looking?
My respect for bugs goes well beyond their chemical and defensive weaponry. In fact, bugs have had a very positive influence in my family. I had a brother-in-law, who was my sister’s husband and then after y-e-a-r-s of unemployment became my ex-brother-in-law.
Well, during the time he was married to my sister, I was told that their cat’s fleas kept jumping onto him and biting him. They left huge welts on his legs, from the knee down. The strange thing about this was, they didn’t bite anybody else—just him. So, now I know fleas to be excellent judges in character.
I have tried to impart my continual wonderment, fascination and respect for bugs to my friend Rob. However, I have not been successful. He sees a bug on the window, and with enough force to kill a grizzly bear, he flattens it completely.
I have tried to help him understand my position using the literary device of personification. One day we were having breakfast and he suddenly lashed out, smashing a bug against the window pane with brutal force.
I told him that now the bug’s mother and father will wonder where he is, and they will be really worried about him because he didn’t come home. I thought I was reaching Rob. I thought I detected empathy. I thought I saw some emotions welling up. Unfortunately, quite the opposite was happening. He fired back, “They won’t be worried. They won’t even know he’s gone. They have 938 other children.”
Well, insects are not that different from us. Ants are very territorial, and they don’t tolerate other types of ants. They will fight to the death, if others who don’t look like they do, come anywhere near their hill. They post guards at the entrance of their compounds, to make sure that only their members are allowed access.
Some ants practice slavery. They actually raid other colonies and take prisoners for slaves in their own colony. Some are even more deranged than that—they send out who they think are their most expendable members on the most dangerous job: to forage for food. Just in case they don’t come back.
You see, bugs are so deserving of your respect I believe we should strive to protect them. There are many ways you can keep bugs happy and safe on your property. Here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t let your dog scratch himself. He might hurt a poor innocent flea.
- If you see a bug in your house, leave it alone to go forth and multiply.
- To prevent flying insects from being injured by glass, keep your windows and screens open. This will greatly reduce head injuries.
- And the last one, always keep food out, especially rotten meat. Think about the 938 children that some of them have to feed.
On a very serious note, we cannot live without insects. Deepak Chopra is known to have said that if insects on this earth perished, all life would cease within five years. But, if humans perished, life would flourish in five years.
We know insects pollinate flowers. They give us forests. They help decompose dead animals, and waste from plants and animals, so that the cycle of life can continue. And, they also provide tasty meals for many animals—including us, albeit some of it unintended.
Bugs are deserving of our reverence and respect…for giving us life. For our very existence. You might not LIKE bugs—creepy, crawly, ugly, scary, slippery, sticky, and slimy—but I implore you to respect bugs.