They’re back. The insects, certainly, but right now I’m talking about those who make moral judgements about the insects that are hatching daily. “Ladybugs are good insects,” someone said to me yesterday. “And dragonflies. And bees. They pollinate flowers, so bees are good insects, too.”
     “Flies pollinate flowers,” I countered, then waited a long four seconds for the logical “Then flies must be good insects, too,” that, you already know, did not follow. “Maybe if we could eat their highly condensed vomited nectar we’d think more highly of them,” I added. I had already told one of the women in my neighborhood trail cleaning group that ticks could be considered as much the victims of Lyme Disease as people, so even I knew it might be time to change the subject.
     Those creatures that add to our comfort are good, those that harm or annoy us are bad. The human race has settled its fanny firmly on the high-horse throne, pronouncing its judgements with caveman-like simplicity: Bees-Good-Keep. Aphids-Bad-Kill. Oh sure, some of us are more enlightened. But our conviction that we live in an elegantly complicated world of intertwined life, the importance of whose individual components are often beyond our ability to understand, is less firmly held when the price of a quick foray into the yard is a constellation of itchy welts behind our ears or our children return from the park festooned with ticks.

     I am not the insect world’s version of St Francis of Assisi. I slap and swat as much as anybody else. But I also understand that there is nothing personal, and certainly nothing moral, in the behavior of insects. They all do what they need to do in order to survive, both individually and as a species. Those that please us and those we fear are alike in being fascinating creatures. Let’s start the summer season welcoming both.

– Sharron Cohen

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