Killing Bugs

A particular piece of Pagan doctrine that always resonates with me is harm no living thing. I take that one pretty seriously. And in my Pagan eyes this applies to everything, including plants and bugs. Yes, I see the irony that we have to eat and therefore have to at least kill plants, but that feeds into the whole circle of life thing, and I’m not going to get into that here.

What I am going to discuss is bug killin’. I honestly try to never kill a bug. There are exceptions, but I’ll tackle those in a minute.

I try not to step on ants or other little critters, and I don’t particularly like swatting flies. Watching me sweep the house is probably fairly amusing as I attempt to not sweep up any little bugs I encounter with the broom.

Here’s a confession that would really freak some people out- I have a little collection of house spiders. When a little spider sets up shop in a corner of my house I generally let it be. Those little spiders do a great job with flies and mosquitoes, making it so I do not have to personally kill these pests. I just leave it to the circle of life.

My house spiders and I have a deal. They don’t bother me, and I don’t bother them. This deal seems to work as I have never suffered from spider bites nor is my house overrun with myriads of spiders.

Sometimes I wrestle with dilemmas about my house spiders and guests. I realize that not everyone who comes to the house is comfortable with a few spiders hanging around. Usually my little eight legged friends are in basically hidden spots, but I have one that really likes a window ledge in the guest bathroom. She makes her web between the bottom of the blind that is pulled up a bit and the window ledge. The last time someone came over I very delicately lowered the blind so the spider was hidden.

Recently I got in my car and discovered a spider had made an amazing web from the passenger sun visor to the dashboard. I was impressed. Later that night someone that I work with had to ride in my car. Before she got in I made her take a moment to admire the web because her sitting in the seat was going to ruin it. I’m not sure if she was as impressed as I was.

For the most part I have always been a protector of bugs. I like bugs. They’re pretty cool, especially beetles. But I do have a dark confession. This story from my past still bothers me to this day, but I share it now because I think it was a key turning point in my relationship with the six-to-eight legged world.

Warning- this story is graphic! Feel free to skip this paragraph if you are sensitive to stories of bug harming…When I was a kid our house backed up to a field and the forest. This field was always full of grasshoppers. One day I had a seriously evil streak. I found some duct tape in the garage and taped pieces of it on a chain link fence so the sticky side showed. Then I stuck live grasshoppers on the tape and let them roast in the sun. After torturing about fifteen grasshoppers I came to my senses, and had the horrible realization of oh my god, what have I done? The worst part was I couldn’t undo it because I couldn’t take the grasshoppers off the tape. I wrestled with intense guilt and was wracked with nightmares that night. The next day (even though I was raised Christian) I had a little Pagan ceremony where I asked forgiveness and laid the taped grasshoppers to rest in a flowery bower. And ever since I have tried to be a protector of bugs.

As I mentioned, there do have to be a few exceptions to my no bug killing policy. Some bugs are vermin and if you let them live they will infest your house, your body, and your pets. I’m thinking of cockroaches, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. When I find a giant roach in the house am I supposed to just let it scurry about freely, maybe let it crawl in the bed or run across my foot? And I live in Texas. Roaches here average at least two inches in length, and they fly. So I must admit, I kill roaches, but it ain’t easy. For one, they terrify me. Second, I am very conflicted anytime I take away something’s life force, even a roach. The same applies to the other above mentioned vermin. I can’t let the dog run around covered in fleas so I have to take preventative measures to kill them, but that still means I’m killing something.

We did suffer through a recent flea outbreak where I had to get down and dirty with the poisons. I had tried everything but it had come to the point that I had to break out major poison (which of course I hate for many reasons). Then someone told me I would have to do the yard to really take care of the problem. So I went to buy some yard poison. I was standing in the yard poison aisle looking at the various inorganic chemical compounds when I realized that this poison would kill the fleas, but it was also going to kill every other kind of bug in the yard. Essentially it was going to wipe out all the little life forms living in my weedy yard.

I couldn’t do it. I could not bring myself to poison the entire yard. I did not buy any yard poison that day.

Luckily, through diligence and a very heavy hand with some chemicals and some natural remedies (like tea-tree and lavender oil) I got the fleas in check. And I’m so glad I didn’t have to take out all the bug life in my yard.

I do try and pass on this respect of all life forms to my students. The one’s that know me well know not to kill any little creatures that make their way into the classroom or studio. They just scream and then I come take care of it. My patented method is to put a cup over the critter then slide a piece of paper under the cup. Then you can carefully pick up the cup and paper and take the little scared bug outside.

One day not long ago the student dance company was helping me put costumes away. I was upstairs in the costume room and they were downstairs in the studio folding laundry. The costume laundry had been dried on the line at my house, then I scooped it all up and threw it into a bag for the students to sort and fold.

I came downstairs and the students were all in a dither. Seems they had found a spider in the bag, freaked out, and convinced the one male in the company to kill it. I used this as a teachable moment.

“Why did you have to kill it?” I asked.

They came back at me with all sorts of crazy responses, most of them stemming from some sort of fear that the spider would suddenly jump on them and attack.

“The spider is not going to jump on you,” I said. “It’s more scared of you then you are of it.” I also went into my diatribe about how some cultures revere spiders and think of them as our ancestors.

Here they laugh and call me crazy, but at least I planted the seed that we don’t have to kill little critters just because we can and we’re scared. And it’s always my mission to help people understand that 99.9% of the time the bug is not going to jump on you and attack. It really just wants to get away.

So that’s my somewhat wordy post on killing bugs. I guess it’s wordy because I do feel strongly about this. Bugs are an important part of the ecosystem, and part of the energy of life. We need to have bugs around and they play an important role. Our society has a lot of crazy views regarding bugs, most of which center around eradicating them. I try and stick with my holistic, Pagan doctrine and make it a point to harm no living thing.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. etain1
    May 26, 2012 @ 01:59:10

    I have a scar on my right cheek from a Brown Recluse spider bite….believe me I don’t mind harming, killing a spider no matter what kind they are. I respect your goal and hope you are able to do so with out harming yourself.

    Reply

  2. Elizabeth
    May 26, 2012 @ 02:14:00

    I enjoyed your blog! For the most I agree with you, I do my best especially not to kill moths because I think they are so beautiful, and I don’t like spiders but if they are small I can tolerate them- but around our house we have giant spiders (size of your palm or bigger) that jump- those I kill- and I will kill wasps and yellow jackets (or I make my husband or Dad as I am allergic to their stings). Anyway I admire you for doing what many people can’t by not killing bugs!

    Reply

  3. The Bad Witch
    May 26, 2012 @ 14:54:21

    I’m glad you didn’t spray the yard. The bees are having enough trouble as it is. This week my chicks were brave enough to discover the deliciousness that is crop-killing-caterpillars so I no longer have to face the shame of being a bug smusher.

    Reply

  4. celticawitch
    May 29, 2012 @ 04:15:38

    LOL…you sound just like me 🙂 I very rarely kill or harm any kind of insect or bug, or snail or slug…I love ’em all. My friends and neighbours think I’m crazy but I actually like them. Of course I cannot avoid harming some – when I accidently step on them or something but as a rule I let them be. And I too have a community of spiders in my house and loads in my garden. The cobwebs in my house I call spider highways and they get left alone until after about a year they get too full of dust. Then I gently remove them and the spiders start all over again. It’s great to find a like-minded pagan 🙂
    Blessings
    Deep~Glade

    Reply

  5. ayearandaday
    May 29, 2012 @ 10:00:38

    I have a rule with MY house spiders, as long as they don’t go in my bedroom, we’re cool. I once woke up with a spider crawling over my face in the middle of the night.
    I agree, we don’t have to kill things because we don’t like them / are afraid.

    Reply

  6. Kim Kwong
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 23:30:16

    Several spiders can protect your home from pesky invaders. Cellar spiders-the web-spinning species most common in homes-have been known to prey on black widow spiders. Some, like the spiny orb weaver and house spiders, can hunt crickets and small flying insects. Wolf spiders can help rid lawns and gardens of common pests. Even the brown recluse-the most dangerous spider to humans-can assist by eating cockroaches, silverfish and other soft-bodied insects.;

    Go look at our own web portal as well
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    Reply

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