They nip, bite, sting, burrow into the flesh, occupy our intestines and eat eyeballs. They spread diseases and those that don’t spread diseases carry the bacteria and viruses that do spread diseases.
In short, they are an unecessary evolutionary sick joke. They weren’t created by a Creator, they were created by the Creator’s morbid teenage son who had seen too many horror films.
A recent BBC Radio 4 programme made a valiant attempt to rehabilitate the fly. “Without flies, we’d be neck high in corpses,” said the presenter. No, we’d be using those corpses as fuel for power stations. In other words, we’d find a use for them, we wouldn’t be sitting around wishing there were swarms of small vomiting pests to eat them.
Has anyone ever got close enough to a hornet to ask why it’s such a bad-tempered bastard? Why can’t large spiders walk a bit quicker so that they don’t look like they’re creeping up on you with a menacing look in all their eyes. Do Daddy Long Legs really need to crash into your face?
Experts will tell us that insects have a place in nature, a role to play. But most of the time that role involves eating each other. Without insects birds would have evolved to eat berries, nuts, flowers, fish and anything else they can get their evolved beaks around. Without insects evolution would simply have followed a different route. To borrow a phrase used by Eddie Izzard, there are no tangled slinkies; we live in a world in which tangled slinkies never existed. Do you miss them? Has nature suffered as a result?
No, and it wouldn’t have suffered without insects. Bigger predators would have eaten the dead, the undigested remains breaking down like rock, dissolved by acidic rain or used by beavers to build ever bigger dams.
Scotland would be midge-free. The desert would be safe to walk barefoot without stepping on a scorpion. The jungles of the world wouldn’t have stick insects the size of golf clubs or beetles as big as lawnmowers. And if you still have sympathy for things with their skeleton on the outside, would you like to share the earth with prehistoric insects? Dragonflies bigger than Vin Diesel. No, thought not.
The only redeeming factor is that 99% of insects are small. Sometimes, that’s what makes them so insidious: you never know which orifice they’re going to creep into when you’re asleep. There was a statistic that said in a lifetime we accidentally eat three hundred spiders when we’re asleep. They fly into our ears, into our eyes, people get stung in the mouth.
There’s no evolutionary justification; the biosphere does not depend on them. There’s no dietary justification; people only eat bugs for a bet or to show off on Facebook. There are no health benefits, no aesthetic qualities (I don’t know of a single Romantic poet who wrote an ode to a cockroach); even vegetarians squash them.
What can we do? They’re impossible to count, so we don’t know how many trillions there are. They breed like flies – especially flies – and they’re immune to nuclear attack which means if they ever develop intelligence they’ll not only nip, bite and sting us, they’ll be able to blow us up as well.