Anyone who knows me will understand what a momentous occasion this was:
Adela’s first ladybug encounter. It was the first time she had a bug crawl on her. We were exploring the community garden, one of her favorite places (in part because she gets to eat a yummy tomato fresh off the vine), and I guided a ladybug onto my hand and then onto her hand.
What’s amazing is the trust. I love how my daughter trusts me implicitly. She opens her mouth to taste any new food I offer, and she lets me do things to her, like swipe sand from her eye, treat a wound with ice or aloe, or stretch and twist her into yoga poses. She’s a very relaxed baby, as you can see from our photos.
I don’t know where my love of insects originated, because my parents don’t share it. But, once it manifested, my mother nurtured it by encouraging my skill and craft of bug collecting. She would pound holes into pickle jars with a Phillips-head screwdriver, and she never put limits on my obsession. Eventually I could poke the holes myself. I got creative using pantyhose for mesh, until these awesome bug cages came my way that had screw tops and screens designed for the budding entomologist.
Once I had my own apartment and knew I’d be there a couple years because I’d started grad school, I got a pet Peruvian Pink Toe tarantula. My mom even came up with its clever name, “Ocho” (for eight legs). I had Ocho for almost 7 years (he lived to probably about 10 years old). A friend drove him all the way from Chicago to New York when I moved, since air transport would’ve been complicated and expensive.
I once had a sweet boyfriend who dug my love of insects, and bought me a few preserved specimens of rare beetles and spiders—which I appreciate, but would much rather see the creatures alive.
Bugs are the main reason I wanted to live in the rainforest, which I did for a while in ’97. Today I’m thrilled we have butterfly bushes in the back yard, that were here when we moved in. I….love….bugs! (But not pesky ones like mosquitoes, or cockroaches, or silverfish. Yuck!)
So, I’d like to poll my readers: How do you feel about bugs? And where do you think our attitudes come from? Do you have memories of particular encounters with bugs? Sure you do—A bee sting? A gorgeous butterfly? A pet catching and eating one? Are insects fearsome to you? I’m so curious! And, I want you to ask yourself what influences your relationship with these life forms.
I think being a steward of the planet entails befriending all its inhabitants. Start small, with bugs!
Read a piece I wrote about seeing nature close up, here.