“In reality most humans are: (1) not just ignorant of but indifferent to almost all of the species on the planet; (2) ‘biophobic’, i.e. slightly to extremely negative towards the majority of species they encounter: and (3) extremely positive towards certain species they encounter that are valuable or simply have characteristics valued by the human psyche.” – Ernest Small, The New Noah’s Ark: beautiful and useful species only
I was reading through the introductory section of The Bees in Your Backyard: a guide to North America’s Bees and I realized that as I turned the pages that I was reacting with fear to some of the detailed (and beautiful) close-up photographs of insects! I avoided looking directly at them or I quickly turned the page. I am laughing at myself for doing so … but I’m also wondering why my reaction is so strong? It isn’t like they are live insects crawling on me – they’re just photographs!
A lot of kids start out being interested in insects, at least the ones I’ve met do … but give them a few years and they start being afraid of them. Maybe because they see how the adults around them react? I know people who are afraid of spiders, beetles, snakes and even ants. I used to eat ants when I was a kid because my brother told me if I needed to survive in the wilderness I could just pull off their heads and snack away. I thought this was great … my grade one classmates didn’t think it so cool.
Nancy Holmes and I went to the Pollination, Science & Stewardship conference in Penticton, BC at the end of March and there were some great talks about moths, flies and bees. Along with all the Pollinizing Sessions and the research I’ve been doing, Elizabeth Elle’s Bee ID workshop (we got to look at specimens under a microscope … the sheer variety of wild bees is amazing!) I’m really starting to feel like I know a bit more about wild bees, where to find them and how to identify them.
I was visiting my sister in Atlanta, GA over the Easter break and managed to identify an Eastern Carpenter Bee … not bad! Probably one of the easier ones to identify … but a year ago I definitely wouldn’t have been able to identify it –– I would have assumed it was a Bumblebee because of the size of it.
I don’t think I’ll start eating ants again … but I’ve made a conscious effort over the past few months to learn about the creepy crawlies along with the wild bees … and I find that knowing more about them goes a long way to help one feel more comfortable with them. And it is pretty gratifying to bee able to identify them!