Mercy and Grace for Smaller Critters

I’ve recently discovered that my attitude towards bugs swings wildly between all-out war and “the more the merrier.”  One example of this is that there were two roaches on my front stoop the other night.  Without even thinking about it, I hopped over them, went inside, and thanked my lucky stars that they didn’t skitter towards the door.  Then when there was a roach inside a few nights later, I smashed it into the floor several times with great speed and determination.  Taking the roach outside definitely didn’t cross my mind.

A few days ago, I noticed a small caterpillar chowing down on my parsley.  I thought it was kind of cute, so I left it there.  If I’m being honest, I’m actually creeped out by caterpillars, and I didn’t want to touch it.  Now there are four big, fat caterpillars on my poor little parsley plant.  There isn’t much left of the plant.

Photo by JohnCox

So on the one hand, I wish that all Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars (yep, I identified it because I’m a librarian and that’s the kind of thing we do) would leave me alone.  They make gross squishing sounds if you kill them, and they have way too many legs for me to be comfortable picking them off of my plant and transporting them to another spot.  On the other hand, they’re having a great time on my parsley.  I don’t like picking the parsley because I think it looks nice, but I did grow it with the intention to eat from the plant.  So why not let someone else enjoy the fruit of my labor?  Maybe it doesn’t matter if the someone in question is one of the world’s smaller creatures.

If they come in my house though, they’re toast.  Is that weird?  To welcome a creature if it’s outside and absolutely destroy it if it comes inside?  I guess no one would think twice about not welcoming a bear in their house.  It seems different though.  For now, I guess I’ll allow my parsley plant to host all of the caterpillars in the greater Norfolk area and maintain my double standard.  Maybe it’ll save someone else’s garden.

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