BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

Your let­ters and Tales from the Bush

I am writ­ing in re­sponse to ‘Should I Swat a Fly?’ by He­len Pilcher (Oc­to­ber 2018). Dur­ing the hot sum­mer, I swat­ted many horse-flies. They in­flicted painful bites to me and my horse. Last Oc­to­ber, I was stung by a wasp, which had crawled into my night­clothes. When I re­lated the story to friends, their re­sponse was: “Well, I hope you killed it”. What was the dif­fer­ence be­tween the horse-flies and wasp? Noth­ing re­ally – both are hated and vil­i­fied, along with dozens of mis­un­der­stood crea­tures. If they don’t ‘fit’ it seems we don’t like them. I have no­ticed over re­cent years a steady de­cline in species we like to loathe, in­clud­ing crane flies, spi­ders, fly­ing ants, house flies, ear­wigs and her­ring gulls. I can­not say what the so­lu­tion is to this, ex­cept ed­u­ca­tion. Many years ago, I used to teach a wildlife mod­ule at an agri­cul­tural col­lege, in­clud­ing lessons on food chains and the con­se­quences of our ac­tions upon it. I had a proud mo­ment when one of my stu­dents said, “When I left the house this morn­ing, there was a snail on the path. Usu­ally, I would have trod­den on it, but thanks to your lessons I walked around it!” Jill Thrower, via email

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