Not all bugs are the enemy

Technically, summer doesn’t begin in a strictly scientific sense until the Summer Solstice on June 21, but for practical purposes the signs are all around us: the number of garage sales is going up, our kids are starting to leave for camp and inflatable pools are sprouting up everywhere.

Oh yeah, and the flora and fauna of Sedalia are starting to thrive — including the ants, roaches and flies of summer. Yes, the spring is heralded by the call of a robin but the sounds of summer are the scratching of the bug and the buzzing of the fly.

You probably read Sedalia Democrat reporter Hope Lecchi’s recent story about Hughes Apiary and the decline of the wild bee population on both a local and global level.

There are multiple causes that might be contributing to this decline: from the destruction of natural, plant-rich bee habitat to viruses like the deformed wing virus, and pathogens like Nosema ceranae and Nosema bombi. But the only thing that most people need to know is that it is happening, and it needs to stop.

A 2009 study in Annals of Botany found there was up to an 8 percent decline in production in crops that received no animal pollination. And it’s hard to realize just how much 8 percent can be until it’s gone, and it could be if we don’t help one of our major pollinators.

So the next time you’re faced with a colony of bees, don’t just try to destroy it. Don’t smash them, or swat them or engage them. Don’t create a crude homemade flamethrower and burn down the hive or drown it in a bucket. There is someone you can contact, like Brad and Felicia Hughes of Hughes Apiary who will come and take it off your hands.

But bees have it better than some other bugs, because they have a pretty good public relations department. There are kids who will tell you that bees are cute and fuzzy, at least in comparison to other bugs.

But for many of us the only good bug is a dead bug, and the offense that lead to their capital punishment is daring to be within the sight of a giant fleshy being. But maybe we’re being a little unfair — by killing everything that crawls on sight we’re taking out both predator and prey — but the prey species elude our sight and our wrath and usually produce offspring at a much higher rate, which means that we’re allowing them to thrive.

I understand if you would prefer that the spider not be in your home, but that doesn’t mean that you need to squish it with an old tennis shoe. Put a container over the spider, slip a piece of paper or something similarly thin underneath it and throw it outside. That spider is going to trap and eat all sorts of other bugs.

OK, imagine for a second that your house is infested with the worst possible bug.

What did you think of? I’d be willing to bet that you pictured a cockroach. You know what eats cockroaches? Centipedes do.

I’m going to be honest with you, centipedes are kind of disturbing. But they are nocturnal, so you’re not going to see them very often and they prey on some of the biggest bugs including spiders, roaches, houseflies and even other centipedes. That centipede that you just smashed was the only thing keeping that colony of something or other from breaching that crack in the basement. Let them be, and don’t pick them up because they will bite you and you won’t like it.

Not all bugs are the enemy, unless they’ve been grown to massive size by radiation, mad science or alien interference.

Sedalia Democrat
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