The Karma of Bug Killing.

We’re all pretty quick with the fly swatter and folded newspaper. We’ve got spray cans of insecticide, tubes of insect repellent, bug lights, mosquito netting, an entire industry dedicated to killing bugs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my share of squashing and swatting. I’m as anti-bug as the next guy, but.

I draw the line at offing ladybugs and crickets. In my book, they both fall into the catch and release category. I won’t kill crickets because it’s bad luck, especially in the house. Ladybugs get a pass because they’re sweet and happy-looking. Their entire purpose is to fly around spreading cheer. What harm is done?

Oh, and I don’t kill big, behemoth bugs, either. I move.

Yesterday I began to question my ‘squash first, ask questions later’ policy. I spied an ant on the stove, doing what ants do, scurryinSMACK. I nailed him with my sandal and buried him at sea, flushed him, actually. As he swirled in the bowl, remorse and guilt and second thoughts ambushed me. I killed a bug for no reason except for being a bug. Had I turned a little family into a widow and orphans?

What, I wondered, do entomologists know about the inner lives of the insects they study? How sophisticated are their brains, for instance? Do they even have brains? Do they have social lives? Do they take vacations? Do they have a bug language? Then a little voice muttered, ‘hey, dumbass, you’re not Disney.’

That’s right, I’m not, but a miniature part of me clings to that colorful cartoon world. Where mice wear gloves and Martians have scrub brushes mounted on their helmets. In that kind of world you survive calamities like exploding tnt and falling off cliffs. Look at Wile E. Coyote, for Pete’s sake. Or Bugs (no pun intended) Bunny, he survived decades of an armed and blood-thirsty Elmer Fudd. Our world just isn’t as forgiving, but shouldn’t I try to be?

Nah.  splat   Th-Th-That’s all, folks.

Copyright © Publikworks 2011.

21 thoughts on “The Karma of Bug Killing.

  1. I was looking throught the “Freshly Pressed” section and saw this post. It hooked me instantaneously, and might I say that I agree 100% with your swatting policy. Dealing with flying cockroaches on an occasional basis doesn’t exactly give me time to think about their precious little lives. The way they scurry around my floor makes me angry and scared at the same time. Anyways, this is truly brilliant. Will definitely be reading more in the future.


  2. I really enjoyed your perspective! As a biologist and having taken invertebrate entomology courses the complexities of insects is amazing! Some people anthropomorphize dogs and cats, I enjoy doing so to insects, much like Pixar did with the film A Bug’s Life. I even recently made a post on thinking before you swat with a moth that landed in my apartment. Thank you for your musing, it made me smile!


    1. What a great comment, thanks shrinkingthecamel. How do you do that, if I may ask? Shrink the camel, that is. Put him in the dryer? Sorry, it seemed funny when I thought of it, sorry.


  3. I recently bought a bug zapper. Many mosquitoes and stink bugs have been killed in the line of duty so far.


  4. I once escorted a spider outside of a Christmas party on the end of my hors d’oeuvre toothpick. Some people thought I was weird, but I’m a hippie.


    1. At first I pictured a bug ka-bob, then I realized what you were saying. You did a good thing, abbylorenz, what with it being the holidays and all. Stop again.


  5. If I find a bug in my house when someone can see me, I’ll kill it and throw it away. However, if I’m by myself with no one to laugh at me for spending ten minutes herding a bug out the back door, well, I might be a little more lenient. :) Great post! More people can relate to this than I would have thought.



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