It seems a shame we don’t have an accurate name to classify all of them. Insects, arachnids, and arthropods, I mean. Those creatures smaller than us that inspire fear. I suspect I’m not alone in experiencing a profound ill-at-easiness for some time after a close encounter with various of these small creatures. Some experiences can be sublime, such as the other day when praying mantis on the glass of our front door provided a wonderful opportunity to look at a marvel from a seldom seen angle. More often, however, the response is one of terror at being outnumbered, out-gunned, or out-run. Spiders can be speedy as well as scary and I often yield the floor to them. If I’ve got an empty peanut butter jar handy I try to catch and release, but I’ll look with worry at the spot of the encounter for days.
Or the flying, stinging things. Mostly they’re good for the environment and I don’t like to kill anything. The other day, however, while returning the recycling bin to the garage I failed to notice paper wasps had built a nest (in just a day, since I’d taken the bin out only the afternoon before) above the door. They were offended that I’d invaded their space—their concept of time is completely off from that of creatures that tend to live decades and want to stay in the same location for years at a time—and decided to attack. This was a new stinging experience for me. One flew down and stung my face then quicker than lightning landed on my right hand and bit again. Its poison burned, I can tell you. I’ve had run-ins with lots of stinging things in my time, but the shock probably added to the hurt. I couldn’t even get the garage door shut, as previously mentioned.
The next morning I awoke unsettled. Houses have cracks and crevices. They settle over time and critters can find their way in. I understand. Everyone needs a home. But opening a door and being unexpectedly attacked hardly seems fair to me. I hadn’t even seen the nest. It’s easy to forget, in this virtual world of pandemic proportions, that we share the planet with a wide variety of others. The large predators are mostly gone. The countless small ones are still here, however, and many of them enjoy the way we’ve warmed the place up for them. I have a feeling that when we finally outlive our welcome on our home, the insects, arachnids, and arthropods will be glad to stick around.