I don’t like the way we kill bugs and insects without a thought as if they were beneath our notice.
We spray our homes and liberally use insecticides in the garden to get rid of what we consider as pests. We think of ourselves as a superior species with the right to decide which insects live or die, which we eat, and those we regard as cute and we might keep as a pet.
My sister used to keep all sorts of bugs in jam jars and often wondered how they escaped (It was me unscrewing the lids).
I am still shocked when bugs are deliberately squashed underfoot just because they cross our path and we might not like the look of them. Maybe I should have been a Jain Monk or Nun. During the monsoon period Jains stay in one place to reduce the risk of accidentally killing insects and other small creatures which thrive during the rains. I have to content myself with being alert to the benefits bugs have in our culture.
I don’t eat meat myself but the educational Youtube channel, AsapScience argues the case in favour of making bugs a greater part of our diet: http://guff.com/studies-say-eating-bugs-may-be-nutritious-and-eco-friendly.
They say that insects are so rich in nutrients that we could easily make them our primary source of fibre, protein, minerals and essential vitamins. Furthermore their evidence shows that switching to eating more insects can also be beneficial to the planet.
For example, farming bugs takes up a fraction of the land we currently use to raise pigs, chickens and cows, which in turn would make more of the Earth’s limited amount of fresh water available to more people.
Now, if you eat meat and fish what’s the problem with eating bugs? It seems all we need to do is rid ourselves of our inherent aversion to creepy crawlies.
Insects are everywhere. They are, by far, the most common inhabitants of our planet. We have named more than 1.5 million species of insects. That is three times the number of all other animals combined.
Without insects, our lives would be vastly different. Insects pollinate many of our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. We would not have as much of the food we enjoy without the pollinating services of insects, not to mention honey, beeswax and silk.
Insects feed on a vast array of foods. Many are omnivorous; they can eat plants, fungi, dead animals and decaying organic matter. Many are predatory or parasitic, either on plants or on other insects or animals, including people. Such insects are important in nature to help keep other insects or weeds at bay. We call this the ’balance of nature’.
Insects are also very important as decomposers. Without them to help break down and dispose of waste, dead animals and plants would accumulate in our environment and it would be very smelly indeed.
Insects are under-appreciated for their role in the food chain. They are the sole food source for many amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In many countries insects themselves are prized as delicacies. Among the most popular are cicadas, locusts, mantises, grubs, caterpillars, crickets, ants, and wasps. Have you tried any?
Insects make our world much more of an interesting place. We derive a great deal of pleasure watching ants work, bees pollinate, or dragonflies flit. Can you imagine how dull the garden would be without ladybirds and butterflies?
We people benefit in so many ways by sharing our world with insects.
Of course some insects can cause problems. Insects may damage our clothing our homes and us. One of my window frames is slowly been eaten by ants as I write.
The insects that harm us or animals, those that destroy our food, or damage our buildings, in other words, the ones that compete with humans in any way, are called pests. Unfortunately, most people are much more aware of the few insects that cause problems than they are of the many beneficial insects around us.
Some think that all insects are bad and all are in need of eradication. I think we should try to remember that the good done by most insects far outweighs any harm caused by a few species.
With this in mind we decided to create a safe haven for the bugs in the Peace Garden. We built a bug hotel four stories high from an old book case, fitted with logs, sticks, jam jars and pine cones.
You can see how it attracts beneficial insects into our garden and adds to the garden biodiversity. Bugs are vital to keeping the eco-system working. If you want to help them get through the hard times or give them somewhere to breed, why not provide them with a place to stay in your own garden too?
Bugs have their own special requirements when they’re looking for a home: somewhere nice and damp, lots of mess and a bit of mould for good measure. There are lots of ways for you to ensure the bugs in your garden can sleep tight through the winter.
One easy design is to take a bundle of bamboo canes or other twigs and tie them together with a piece of string. Hang the bundle under the branch of a tree or to a railing and the bugs will start to move in.
Or you can take a plastic bottle, cut off the bottom, make holes in the sides and fill it with dead leaves or straw. Or find an old plant pot, fill it with leaves and turn it upside down in a damp place, the bugs will be in seventh heaven.
Bug boxes should be in a warm dry place. If the rain can get in, your bugs may drown. An insect box takes up little space so you could put one on a balcony or fix it to a wall. You could even secure it to your window box. Just make sure your bug home can’t be blown away in the wind.
Why not come to visit our bug hotel beside the sanctuary, and meet its occupants. You might find a tasty morsel there. Happy bug watching!