My History with Bugs

Technically, I think bugs are supposed to be six-legged beings, but I will use the more popular parlance, where bugs are anything creepy and crawly, and including small flying things that are not birds or bats. In Genesis chapter one God created them as living things that creep on the ground, and in that sense they are truly creepy.

I was afraid of bugs for many years. I was born in Florida where bugs are plentiful. It seems that even as a baby I was curious about everything that moved, flew and crept. Some creatures are not pleased with human interference, even in baby form. I crawled into a nest of Fire Ants and felt their fury and stinging mandibles all over. To keep me from further misadventures with the creepers, Mom taught me to scamper away as fast as possible whenever I saw bugs.

I ignored this lesson at about age five, perhaps because the bugs were flying rather than crawling. Grandpa’s bee hives did not tolerate my throwing a toy shovel of dirt at them. I spent hours in a bathtub full of ice having Grandma pull bee stingers out of my limbs.

Thus reinforced in the vicious nature of insects, I avoided them carefully for more than ten years. I hated flying shiny green June Bugs, and nasty ugly Potato Bugs. The only insect I can remember liking was a giant moth we found in Aromas, California, trapped in our trailer one day. It was a Cecropia moth and amazingly beautiful, quiet, and harmless. So butterflies and moths I did not fear because I had seen one up close and it posed no danger.

The last time I remember jumping and running away from a bug was in the hallway of my Seattle area high school. Some large beetle or cockroach was walking across the floor. It was rather embarrassing to have classmates view my fear of bugs. The problem was, my reaction had become automatic, and so my brain had no time to think, “that bug is ten feet away and cannot bite me.”

For the next twenty years I managed to shift the fear into tolerance. I told my brain, most bugs are not dangerous, just stay away from them, and don’t panic.

About ten years ago I came across a documentary sort of television show called Microcosmos. I love to watch animal documentaries, and this one was intriguingly done with super zoom cameras so you could see what life is like at the blade-of-grass level. What would a bug see as it walks along?

Curious, I watched. I discovered that those tiny vicious biting things are actually just tiny normal creatures like larger animals. I actually learned to admire bugs. I bought the dvd and watched it over and over.

My childhood fear of bugs was self-protective. I needed to avoid fire ants, so I ran away. Bees stung me, so I ran away. But most bugs don’t bite or sting, at least not hard enough to hurt a human. Plus, most bugs don’t want to bite. Most of the time, the bees that sting you die, and the ants that bite die too. They are just defending their queens or hives or nests.

So I was rightly afraid of bees and red ants, but my brain extended that to all other small creepers (except moths and butterflies). Once my brain learned that most bugs were harmless and interesting creatures, that fear went away. Now I find them fascinating.

I do still hate mosquitoes. I kill them on sight. In Africa they tormented me and thus they have earned my undying malice.

In my current job, I often sit in a trailer to guard property, and sign visitors in and out. We have big spotlights to shine on the entry gate. In May each year, the moths come out. They are attracted or stunned by the bright lights, and hang from the screen windows of the trailer. Sometimes the moths are so thickly holding to the screens that the view is half obstructed. Most moths are tiny, a few are medium sized, and then there are one or two giants. Here in Pennsylvania we have Luna Moths. The largest I have seen in Pennsylvania is about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide with lovely greenish wings with other colors of trim and decoration. In Thailand I saw a gigantic white one fluttering over my breakfast, about the size of a basketball!

Luna Moth from above

I will try to put a couple photos I took of the luna months in here.

underside luna

I bought a book on Amazon of Moths of the Northeastern United States with pictures so I could start to identify the various kinds. One of the most pretty is called the Rosy Maple Moth. These moths have bright colors and fuzzy bodies with large frilly antennae.

At that website you can see the Rosy Maple Moth; I don’t have a photo of one.

So what does all of this have to do with you?

Most people I know have a distaste, if not a dislike, of small creatures like bugs. Spiders especially. I used to fear spiders, but then I learned how they eat mosquitoes and other insects. So they actually help to keep unwanted bugs from my apartment.

God made bugs with a purpose. I have no idea what all of those purposes are. Spiders are not actually bugs, since they have eight legs (they are arachnids). So hating spiders is not really hating bugs, technically.

A lot of bugs seem to have the purpose of recycling. God set up the world with janitorial crews called insects, to eat up organic material and turn it into fertilizer for plants. Dung beetles clean up the ground in the amusing way of forming dung balls and rolling them to their lairs.

If you think about it, bugs aren’t so bad. You might enjoy that Microcosmos dvd, and find them more interesting.

So, what is your favorite “bug,” and why?

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