Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fire and Ice

Over the summer my woodpile became infested with box elder beetles and stink bugs. I was not aware of this situation until last week when I built a fire and set a couple of extra logs on the hearth. Within moments there was a mass migration of insects across the carpet. The air temperature outside was very cold, but as soon as those guys warmed up they had twenty-five different directions to crawl in.

Even though I have no fear of bugs, I confess that it was a little disturbing: there were a lot of beetles in the living room. I ran around sweeping them onto folded-up sections of newspaper, but then I hesitated. I don't like to kill bugs unless it's unavoidable; I have a strict capture and release program, but releasing these unfortunates would probably mean their deaths. The mercury was due to drop below freezing that night, and I had already unknowingly burned scores of them, and the wood pile was undoubtedly full of hundreds more. It would be so easy for me to flick my squirming collection into the fire where their demise would be sure but swift, but I could also let them loose to try their luck in the frigid night.

Either way, those bugs were goners, and I would be the instrument of their demise.

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