A wide world of bugs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

Bugs. Most ev­ery­body hates them. We spray them, swat them, step on them and curse them to lit­tle avail. They in turn bite us, sting us, live on us and even in us.

I sup­pose the two most de­spised bugs are flies and mos­qui­toes. Oth­ers that I would list in the top 10 of most hated bugs are fleas, ticks, chig­gers, lice, ants, ter­mites, lo­custs and dis­gust­ing cock­roaches. Yel­low fever, malaria and bubonic plague are just a few of many dis­eases spread by these tiny crit­ters.

Most bugs (a gen­eral term) are in­sects, but not all, and I’ll con­fess I don’t al­ways know the dif­fer­ence. When ill, we some­times say we have a bug, but never we “have an in­sect.” We may bug an­other per­son but we never “in­sect” an­other per­son. To put a bug in some­one’s ear means to give a hint or re­minder. It would be in­ter­est­ing to know that id­iom’s ori­gin.

There are more than one mil­lion iden­ti­fied species of bugs which make up about half of all liv­ing crea­tures. Un­less we hap­pen to be en­to­mol­o­gists, we gen­er­ally think most of them are pests.

Those weird an­cient Egyp­tians con­sid­ered the scarab bee­tle, also known as the dung bee­tle, to be sa­cred. Moses, with a lit­tle help from above, sicced flies, gnats and lo­custs on the Egyp­tians try­ing to per­suade Pharaoh to re­lease the He­brews.

Pests they may be, but they can be in­ter­est­ing lit­tle crea­tures. A few we con­sider ben­e­fi­cial to hu­mans. The honey bee, lady­bug and dragon­fly come to mind, and what a poor world it would be without but­ter­flies and fire­flies. JOHN McPHER­SON Searcy

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