Am I stretching my pacifism too far?
For the past several years at this time, I’ve carried out the unpleasant chore of ridding my bedroom of stink bugs. They seem to come out in droves at the end of September or the beginning of October, and for some reason they have concluded that my room is a cool hangout spot.
I’m certain there are effective methods of dissuading these pests from loitering on my walls and ceiling, and perhaps I’ll investigate them one of these days. But my usual method of being bug-free was to capture them in some container and tossing them out a nearby window.
When first encountering stink bugs in 2016 (I had just moved into my new place), I tried either swatting them with a rolled up newspaper/magazine or using Raid to kill them. This compelled me to remove the insect corpse from wherever it landed and dispose of it.
But after engaging in this practice for a week or two, I began feeling guilty. There was no need for the stink bugs to die; I just didn’t want them in my room.
So I started using a plastic container to catch them in before releasing them via a hallway window. This made me believe that I was accomplishing something noble — in contrast to the genocidal maniacs with whom I share this dwelling. They hunt and kill insects without any reservation. (Yeah, don’t try to hide — you all know who you are!)
I preserve the lives of stink bugs (however long or short that may be) by returning them to the great outdoors. They are free to do whatever they want … except, of course, lounge around in my bedroom.
But while the inner Buddhist in me rejoiced at liberating these sentient beings, this isn’t necessarily the easiest way of getting rid of them. I often have to walk across my bed or balance myself on the arms of my bedroom recliner to capture them inside the plastic container.
So I devised a new catch-and-release method. I use a Shark cordless handheld vacuum to get the job done.
And, I admit, it works! The handheld vacuum is long enough to reach the ceiling without me needing to stand on anything.
The stink bugs get sucked into the holding pen (as it were) of the vacuum. And while I can’t assess their emotional state at that moment, this process doesn’t kill them. When I’ve caught all of them present, I remove the filter from the device once I’m outside and shake the front portion of the vacuum to get them out.
Sometimes I wonder if this live-and-let-live sentiment is absurd. Should I really care about how I treat insects?
Actually, yes I should. In an April 6, 2017, posting on ThoughtCo.com, Debbie Hadley offers this:
“As a bug lover, I’m always trying to convince other people to stop killing every six-legged critter that comes within 10 feet. It’s not just about my personal interest in insects. There are a lot of good reasons why you shouldn’t kill bugs: (1) Insects were here first, by over 300 million years. Technically, we’re on their turf. (2) Insects killed the dinosaurs. What if T. Rex was still wandering around here, eating small children at will? (3) Other things eat insects, like birds and lizards and my cat. (4) If you kill a good insect, you’ll wind up with more bad insects than you can possibly kill. Then you’ll be sorry. (5) Some insects do essential jobs that Americans won’t do, like pollinating flowers.”
I don’t share Hadley’s fascination with bugs, but she provides a sound rationale for keeping them around. So I’m glad to have developed a way to get them out of my room in a humane manner.
Now if only I could make the remaining clutter in my room disappear as easily …
Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to email@example.com.