We have a catch-and-release policy regarding insect life at the apartment. (And, although I have a feeling that my roommate disregards this policy when I’m not around to enforce it, it’s usually pretty well-observed. With the exception of earwigs, who get no mercy.) It’s exactly what you think–if we see a spider, for instance, out comes a glass and a magazine and we try to trap the spider, get it in the glass, and then release it, all without letting the spider touch us or get squished. It makes life exciting.
Years ago I read this poem and it stuck with me, popping into my mind every time I killed a spider, which is why I catch and release today. I don’t remember the source–I think Gary Snyder, via some Buddhist hippy quote collection–but I will find out tonight.
…fly away, tiny mite, even your life is precious.
I lift the book and blow you into the dazzling void.
Which of course echoes the Issa haiku from 200 years before:
Don’t kill him!
The fly wrings its hands,
(Yes, there is even a literary take on killing bugs.)
I generally have a catch and release policy too. I’ve saved many a spider (of which jumping spiders are my favorite), moth, bee, or other little creature.
But, I’ve changed my policy a bit with regard to ants. Generally, I really like most of the bees, ants and wasps–We even co-habitated fairly happily with some kind of wood eating ants in a previous apartment. But, after reading “Ants at Work: How an Insect Society is Organized” I somehow find it a little easier to sweep up a whole mess of ants with a vacuum than I did before.
Maybe it’s because I know they are all sisters, but even more closely related than human sisters–I figure they’ll make more just like these. Or, if you think of the whole colony as the true organism, I’m not really killing the colony, I’m just slowing it’s growth a bit and teaching them a valuable lesson about foraging on my counter.
“Every flower of the field, every fiber of a plant, every particle of an insect, carries with it the impress of its Maker, and can-if duly considered-read us lectures of ethics or divinity.”
Sir Thomas Pope Blount