Yes, it is National Pollinator Week (June 16-22 in the US). Ironically, my “How do I kill them?” e-mail is pouring in faster than ever, depressing me no end. Most of these people want to know how to kill the sweet little ground bees that are drilling holes in their pristine suburban lawns. I’m not picking on anyone in particular here—I don’t have to because all the messages sound the same:
- They are all from women (or perhaps men posing as women).
- They all cite the necessity of protecting their children from stings (I would bet that some don’t even have children).
- They all say they don’t want to kill the bees, but they have to do something (of course they want to kill the bees; that’s why they’re asking).
When I read these missives, I imagine an hysterical woman scared to death of anything with more than four legs. Her children are not the problem, she is. In any case, children take cues from their parents and reflect their parents’ fears. If the mother is mortified, it won’t take long before the child is too.
These people are educated or not, but in any case they are oblivious to the world around them. They believe they have a right to a germ-free, dirt-free, bug-free, snake-free, spider-free world, and they will go to any extreme to make it happen. They are the parents of children who believe carrots arise from plastic bags, that meat has no relationship to animals, that anything from a store is safe, and who—nevertheless—are afraid of their own shadows.
But maybe I’m being too hard on these folks. Certainly, I’ve been wrong before, so let me re-think:
- Maybe we would all be happier if we could annihilate just one more creature.
- Maybe it’s better for children to inhale cancer-causing insecticides—and absorb them through their skin—than chance a bee sting.
- Maybe we should spend our money on something deadly (pesticides) instead of something fun (a butterfly net, a hand lens, or a popsicle).
- Maybe we should spend our time obsessing over a patch of lawn instead of using that time to read, write, laugh, or do something useful.
- Maybe, if we stick our heads in a hole, someone else will conserve whatever needs it (as long as it doesn’t live in our own yard).
- Maybe we should all jump in the car (33,500 traffic fatalities a year in the US) and drive to the store to buy pesticide (67,000 poisoning cases a year in the US along with 12,000 new cases of pesticide-caused cancer) so we can avoid the possibility of an insect sting (50 fatalities per year in the US).
These statistics vary depending on the source, but basically the message is the same: you are 670 times more likely to die in a car crash than from an insect sting, yet no one hesitates to put their kid in a car. You are 1340 times more likely to be poisoned by pesticides than killed by a insect. But does that stop us from sprinkling, spraying, powdering, and injecting? Hell, no.
Honestly, folks, I don’t get it.