I am thankful for insects as so many are beneficial to our world and to us. But they can be wondrous in their own lives too. Studying and photographing insects bring more interest, joy, understanding, and knowledge to my life. There is a whole different way of life that we don’t always see.
From the tiniest mite to the garden spider each has their own life in which they forage for food; defend themselves, their homes and their young; mate, grow and die. Most of those lives are hidden from our view.
I find my fellow world inhabitants fascinating. I don’t like to kill bugs unless they threaten me or my family’s well-being. When one of them invades my home, I try to capture and release the critter when I am able. After all they just got lost and need an escort out to their freedom.
I often catch flying bugs, spiders, wasps, crickets and the like, under a big plastic cup, then slide a piece of thin cardboard gently under the cup, capturing them with as little trauma as possible. Then I carefully release them back into their natural habitat.
Mosquitoes, biting or poisonous bugs who enter my home are invaders and may cause potential problems. They get as quick and painless a death as I can give them. After all they are only doing “what comes naturally” and can not help themselves. But I DO NOT want them in my house!
Insects can bring beauty, grief, irritation, admiration, fear and wonder into our lives. But we all love to see butterflies flitting around flowers. They are wonderful mood elevators and often make us smile when we see them.
They assist in pollination of various flowering plants thereby helping to balance the ecosystem in their own way.
Then there are the weavers of the insect realm. The spiders who can scare us to death if their web happens to be in our path and we don’t see it. The really scary spiders are jumping and huge spiders (which fortunately don’t live near me!)
One particular spider I discovered after living in the same house for 7 years was the spiny orb weaver (also known as the smiley face spider). I am always observant of bugs and unusual ones especially. But I never encountered one until one strange web appeared in my back yard.
The next year there were three webs separated wisely by a courteous distance from each other.
The spiny orb weaver looks like a little crab under a hard, small shell on its back. The shell may be red, blue or yellow. The soft body and legs extend out from under the shell when spinning or sitting in its unique web.
The web is shaped kind of like a kite or four pointed star with anchor strands coming out from each corner of the kite. The circular web is meticulously strung between the “kite” points.
Along the radial arms from the center and down the anchor lines there are tufts of web that look like cotton. After discovering these webs and their inhabitants I was amazed at how many there were around our town.
Last but not least of my favorite insects are the dragonflies. Their slender bodies, ethereal sets of wings, varying colors, and darting, hovering and speedy flight patterns make them somewhat of a mystical insect.
Some cultures believe they symbolize change and growth to maturity or finding one’s true self. Just a few interesting facts: they can fly at 45 miles per hour, hover, fly backwards, and straight up!
Once I even saw a live Rhinoceros beetle. My curiosity was piqued and I had to look them up to learn about them. Although never saw one before, they are more common than I imagined. They live in moist forest floors under logs, leaves and dirt.
These wicked looking bugs have two horny protuberances used to fight off other males during mating season. They are really amazing for their size. In proportion to their size they can lift 850 times their weight, the equivalent of a human lifting nine adult elephants!
Insects live short lives usually which are full of hatching, eating, growing, mating, laying eggs and dying. I am sure that they think of their short lives as just as precious to them as we think of ours. This belief gives me more reason to try to respect and protect their lives when possible.
What amazing creatures we share our planet with!