Neither rain nor drought, neither pool nor park crowds, neither pollen nor pollution will keep me inside this summer. These are vows I have taken and will abide by for the remainder of the season. You can add bugs to this list, too – for better or worse.
After last summer, we know the risks of Zika and how to stay prepared. We know that fire ants are nicknamed “red devils” for good reason, and we know to check all the crevices of our people and pets for ticks.
But there are some good guys out there, too. My goal, along with summer solidarity, is to raise kids who don’t run screaming from all things that creep and crawl. Critters can be good. Here are a few to love:
Save the bees! Seriously. We need these guys to spread the pollen to keep the crops growing and honey flowing. We need those little fuzzy bodies to tip-toe through the daffodils and make the magic happen, because we certainly can’t.
We need a “Bee Movie 3”, and we need more flower gardens to show signs of life. If the kids in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” can ride bees like pterodactyls, then surely, we can at least give them some air space.
The firefly can synchronize its lighting flashes with hundreds of its friends. When have you ever coordinated something to that effect? And what is summer without a few nights spent trying to catch a few in jars or cupped palms?
Firefly catching is the one activity I will break bedtime for, and perhaps because of that, it’s the one that makes the best memories. Unless you forget to poke air holes in the jar lids. Then the devastation is full-scale. Not that I’m speaking from experience.
Crickets can tell you the temperature as accurately as any thermometer if you just listen. Simply count the chirps of one cricket for 14 seconds, add that number to 40, and you’ve got yourself a temperature.
These guys are cousin to the grasshopper, who taught every kid the importance of thinking ahead in Aesop’s Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. I always felt a little bad for the guy, freezing in his scarf and mittens, while the ant stayed warm and fed.
Truth: These guys still gross me out. Have you ever stepped on a slug with your bare foot? Then you know what I mean. Slimy, sticky, squishy, gooey, oozing, amorphous…. All the things I don’t want in something that can (albeit slowly) make its way towards me.
And yet, they actually serve a purpose. That compost heap you’re cultivating in your back yard? Slugs can help. They’re naturals at breaking down materials and turning them back into earth. They also have amazing sex lives. Who knew? This might, maybe, stop me from salting the next one I see.
Who wouldn’t love a glow-in-the-dark butterfly? While they don’t actually glow, they do reflect the moon’s light and only appear at night. They belong in an ethereal category all their own with their dreamy fluorescent green wings.
I had a Hasbro Glow Worm once, but these are better. They don’t require hundreds of dollars’ worth of D-cell batteries to work their magic.
So, before you line your perimeter with bug zappers and citronella torches, consider giving these little guys a pass. They’re not out to get you. They just want to share your space for a while. Consider it cross-species communal living.
*This article originally appeared in Parent.co.