I've had a long and complicated relationship with insects and spiders, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who collectively calls them all "bugs." As a child, I was a screamer for just about everything. The boys next door knew they could freak me out with a harmless daddy-long-legs, and I believe neighbors were ready to call the ambulance when they heard my reactions to a tentworm falling into my hair.
In partial defense, I was influenced by my mother and older sister in this. In addition to the screech, we shared a gesture meaning "ewwww!": hands held up beside the head, shaking rapidly. I once heard furious banging in the bathroom and investigated to find Susan pounding the tub with a slipper, killing what she thought was a centipede. Then she put on her glasses, and it turned out to be a clump of hair.
Such reactions continued into adulthood, until they were moderated by three experiences: volunteering at a zoo, teaching at a nature camp for youngsters, and living in the islands.
ZooAmerica started by making me comfortable with snakes, and as I continued to interact with the naturalists and animals I became okay with touching a tarantula's exoskeleton and feeding mealworms to baby alligators.
Under Rockwood Park's nature camps' no-kill policy, I carefully picked up ants to move them outdoors, caught toads to let the kids see them up close and let caterpillars walk on my arms.
On North Caicos, I learned that open houses bring in all sorts of guests that must be dealt with: spiders as big as Buicks, "bat" moths, geckos and huge cockroaches. I still scream a lot, especially for the roaches, but then I gather my courage.
What happens next depends on what critter is there. Here, loosely, is my schema.
NEVER KILL: Geckos and lizards (which eat the things I don't like), ladybugs, fireflies, snakes, frogs, butterflies and moths, dragon- and damselflies, bees, caterpillars and most spiders. I won't touch a worm, but I won't kill it, either.
ALWAYS KILL: Roaches, mosquitos, flies, stinging ants and anything in my bathtub.
SITUATIONAL ETHICS: Ants are okay outdoors where they belong; they don't belong in my kitchen, so die! And although I know Buick spiders and millipedes are harmless, they give me the willies. Outside, okay; inside, an apology before death.
Is this "ranking" of creepy-crawlies fair? I wonder. On North Caicos, I have a Buddhist/animist friend. Does he affirm the mosquito's life by not slapping it? In short, WWND? What would Naqqi do?
I'm hoping to get a comment from him.