Bugs: They don’t seem to be all ‘unhealthy’ | Pure World | Bend | The Supply Weekly


NoNot so long ago I rioted that birds were one of the best helpers in our “fight with insects”. I’m afraid I gave people the impression that all insects are “bad” and that we are constantly threatened by voracious arthropods.

If I left you this picture, then I have done our six-legged companions a great disservice. Bees, for example – despite their painful sting – are anything but “bad”. The fruit industry can’t do without their help in pollinating the orchards, and all that delicious honey – the by-product of the floating around – makes dividends even sweeter. By the way, I was a beekeeper for many years and I loved my bees, but I gave up on them when I learned that our native wild bees were in trouble and the native honeybees were competing with them.

  • Jim Anderson

  • Pollinating hummingbird moth in search of nectar.

Without the many insects that share the air and space with us, we would not have the abundance of wildflowers that make spring so special here in the shade of the Cascades, and vegetables to eat.

But on the other hand, this beautiful hummingbird moth in the photo here leads a double life, something that most insects do – have to do. In the adult stage it is a wonderful pollinator, but as a larva some of them are known as “tomato hornworm”. Yes, they are voracious tomato vine eaters.

Then there is crickets. If you camp the night in Lava Beds National Monument or many locations east of the Cascades and get the calculations right, you can determine the air temperature by counting the chirp. The following math formula shows you how it works.

According to the old farmer’s almanac:

“To convert the chirp of the grill to degrees Fahrenheit: just count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, then add 40 to get the temperature. The number you get is an approximation of the outside temperature.”

Fly fishermen spend a lot of money and time creating fake insects to attract elusive trout. Many fishermen I know look into the bellies of their catch to see what the fish have been eating and then try to use similar creatures to catch more fish. Some of these hardworking addicts keep their fish and eat them while others – luckily – put them back in the creek or lake for another day.

I remember speaking to a new Sunriver resident years ago when I was a naturalist for the resort. My calling was to cultivate a positive attitude towards the natural things of Sunriver in residents, guests and staff. This homeowner complained about every insect that flew past her lights at night and was sure they were all “pests”.

I tried to convince the women that it was best for Sunriver – and their health – not to pick up a can of raid or other poison and kill every insect they saw.

I also pointed out that wasps are major enemies of harmful insects and many of the large wood-boring beetles are important food for woodpeckers, especially the magnificent highland woodpecker and the beautiful white-headed woodpecker.

Then the mosquitos struck and this woman was like a dirty shirt over me! She whined and complained to the point where she drove me insane. During one of her passionate whining episodes, she shrieked, “What use are they?” I was so frustrated that I replied, “What are you actually good for?”

Sure, mosquitoes get under your skin – well, not really, that’s just a phrase. The females suck your blood while the males are flower pollinators. But when a mosquito larva gets anywhere near a fish, the larva is a toast, while night owls, swallows, and bats consume tons and tons of adult mosquitos.

See the positive side: almost every insect that flies, crawls, swims, or walks in this country is someone else’s dinner.

While spending time with the Aboriginal people in Australia, I was impressed with how the kids enjoyed roasting thumb-sized wood-boring beetle larvae over a fire and sipping them like marshmallows. I’ve tried it once, but I wasn’t hungry enough to enjoy the experience or repeat it, much to the children’s delight. Just before they put a large dish in their mouths, they shouted, “Hey, Jim! It was enough to gag a maggot.

Now that I remember, I fried a couple of mosquitos once – caught flying over Crane Prairie on an osprey survey – and they were fried pretty well in butter; they tasted a little like pecans roasted in honey.

Now I’m content to spend my time watching and enjoying the fascinating interactions between insects, humans, and the results of people’s curiosity and tolerance. The world is one big textbook; All we have to do is pay attention and have fun learning what is going on when insects do things for and for us.

But now I wonder how chocolate-coated grasshoppers will taste, or one of those budding cicadas. Maybe I’m missing something. …