In defence of ‘bugs’
Re: “Bugging out teaches this mom a lesson”, (Cowichan Citizen, Oct. 8)
Sarah Simpson’s column last week prompted me to want to speak out in defence of bugs. Her kids, she explained, were, like most kids are, excited to capture bugs into some kind of a container, observe them up close, and maybe even get to see what they might do to each other when contained in the same jar. I get it, kids love the ick factor.
Unlike bugs, other animals have a cute factor — and we would certainly never think of harming them. Bugs, however, (actually insects) are considered to be creepy, crawly, and, well icky. We are without hesitation to squish, swat, or sweep them out of existence with nary a thought to any value their lives might have. It’s even somehow acceptable when our kids would place them into a jar to cheer on a life and death battle that might ensue between the likes of spiders, crickets, grasshoppers and wasps. Bugs don’t get much respect.
My edition of Garden Bugs of British Columbia (Lone Pine) reminds me that bugs actually deserve a lot of respect. They outnumber all other life forms. And without them, the author of my book explains, we are all doomed. They are major food sources for fish, birds and mammals alike. They pollinate our crops and decompose our litter. They also eat each other, the so-called ‘good’ bugs keeping so-called ‘bad’ bugs in check. The food web that supports our own lives doesn’t exist without the insect community.
Unfortunately for bugs, and us, they are on the decline. Scientists are calling it an insect apocalypse, citing that 40 per cent of insect species are diminishing. The story of why is beginning to sound all too familiar — habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, landscape and agricultural practices, as well as climate change, are just some of the reasons. So perhaps the next time you feel the need to squish, swat or sweep that little spider occupying the corner of the ceiling in your garage, you might consider that he’s really doing a job of some importance for you up there. I think we should all try to better appreciate the lowly and under-appreciated bug.