By Amy McCollom
It is sort of like bleu cheese; you either really like it, or you want to stay far away from it. There really isn’t much middle ground when you talk about an insect. I know people on both ends of the spectrum.
My beautiful daughter, Portia, is very fond of insects, and finds them utterly fascinating. Just yesterday, I helped load her heavy 40-gallon bug terrarium onto my old Radio Flyer metal wagon and pull it into our backyard. She had found a discarded spider egg sack at the beginning of fall, and had cared for it all winter until tiny spiders hatched a few weeks ago. Yesterday they were ready to balloon out into the world, and Portia was excited to share this natural phenomenon with me.
Tiny blonde spiders, no bigger than a strawberry seed, crawled up the side of the glass and were caught on the breeze and lifted into the sky. A few tickled as they crawled across my hand, but being half the size of a tiny ant, I was not afraid of them. Not going to lie, I do not let just any spider climb onto my hand.
Portia smiled, and squinted as she watched her little fledglings take off like a series of Boeings at LAX.
“This is just like the last scene in Charlotte’s Web.” she said with a sigh. And it was; beautiful.
Most people, though, fear and do not appreciate those things that they do not understand. Bugs, for instance. Most of us (about a fourth, I checked) are afraid of spiders. Even though I know most spiders are harmless and only two species in our area are dangerously venomous, I still get a split-second rush of terror when I see one slyly crawling along the wall.
Some of our fear comes from lack of knowledge. We are naturally afraid of the unknown. That is why we should all read more. The more you read, the more you know, and the greater peace you will have. The truth will set you free, as they say, and it also applies to fear.
Phobias are irrational fears that come from past experiences and that’s above my paygrade to discuss. So we will leave it at that.
Beyond spiders, we are now hearing in the news about Giant Asian Murder Hornets that have been found in the United States. Should we be afraid? Should we do some research? Should we form a plan if we happen to see one in our neck of the woods? Am I allergic to hornet stings? Will they carry off my small dog? Are they secret military drones disguised as insects? Can I catch one and de-stinger it? Are they a good protein source? Can I tie a string around it’s leg and keep it as a pet? Are they related to unicorns? Are they miniaturized spaceships from the planet Zag? So many questions!
Well, if you are smarter than the average bear, it would certainly warrant studying up a bit. Can you be prepared if an insect like that comes to your area? I think you can.
Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The more you know about the things that frighten you, the less power they have over you. Giant hornets, being bigger, would probably move slower than regular hornets, and they would be easier to catch or hit. So there’s that.
In my humble opinion, the best choice to combat these giant murder hornets is with a handheld electric fly swatter. They usually run on two double A batteries, are lightweight and easy to use, and some can pack around 3000 volts of shocking electricity. They are available at most hardware or big box stores and online and cost less than $20. I hit some pretty big creepy crawlies with mine last summer, and not a single one of them got up and wanted to go a second round. I would say that they do a pretty good job at killing unwanted bugs.
Portia told me that Japanese honeybees have been taking on these giant murder hornets on their own to protect their nests. They have adapted a method of forming “hot defensive bee balls” around the invading hornet, and then they vibrate their wings, causing the temperature inside the ball to rise up to 115 degrees fahrenheit, literally cooking the invading hornet inside. These bee balls can include up to 500 bees, working together to kill their enemy. Perhaps what we need is more Japanese honeybees to come to America. Or some really powerful handheld blow dryers.
Regardless of whether we are friends or foes of insects, all creatures great and small play a part in this world. It is our job to decipher how to not disturb the natural way of things, and live peacefully with the life that existed long before man built the very first wheel. There is so much more to know than our minds can or will try to comprehend. The best thing that man can do for this world that God created is to admit that we still do not know exactly how it works. And leave it at that.