On a mission to save all the creepy-crawlies

2010-04-13 00:00

IT’S hard being a pacifist. I live in dread during the warmer months, in a constant state of alertness, monitoring my movements always. It’s the ants, you see. Snails and other creepy- crawly home invaders too.

For example, this evening as I was washing the tub after my evening ablutions, I spotted an ant shape headed feet first and resolutely for the plug hole, borne along by the tide of rinse water.

Panic arose because we all know that down-the-sink-hole means certain death.

I grabbed my sponge and leapt towards it, scooping it up eventually after it had dodged my attempts three times.

My 40-plus eyes squinted at it, as I readied to blow on it gently both to dry it and provide ant resus — they never taught us that at the Red Cross course I did, but I picked it up somewhere and have saved many a bedraggled and tangled daddy long legs that way.

Anyway, the ant turned out to be just a piece of detritus, possibly some of that black stuff that despite the best efforts of oft-applied Handy Andy and Mr Muscle (why are they male names?) forms in the nether regions of the taps and in the gap between bath and tiles. Relief. No anty soul to be lost.

The kitchen presents similar problems. Careful where you step. Careful where you wipe. To wash a dish, one must clear the ants out the sink. I lick a finger, pick up the ant on the wet bit and flick it onto the floor where it wanders off, oblivious that I have saved its life. Hope I don’t tread on it later.

Snails are another peril that the garden path presents, especially on a rainy, misty night. I adore snails and never kill them because they have such winsome character. That crunch underfoot and the subsequent realisation, bring dread and remorse. If it is a slight injury, we care for them for a few days to give them a chance to regenerate, misting them gently so they don’t dry out, and tempting them with tasty morsels in a shoebox before freeing them again.

Geckos — our loved lounge lizards — are another cause for concern. Ever squashed one in a door or a window? The guilt is overwhelming. So now each door and window is jiggled before closing to prevent a ghastly reoccurrence.

Spiders, goggas and creepy-crawlies are character-building challenges all, as I approach the bigger ones with dread, catch them in a towel with my stomach in my throat and free them outside with my eyes closed at times.

So why do we do feel compelled to cherish these little lives, those of us who do? Why not rub the ant irritation away or drown the snails in beer? I have often wondered. Maybe I’m subconsciously repaying karma because I was a really bad person in a previous life. But then again, maybe I’m just exercising control over something I can control, although it complicates my life, in a world in which we can control so little.

Obsessive compulsive I may appear, but I don’t think I am. I just believe each critter has a place in the universe and I am not going to smite them unless I absolutely, really have to, or unless it’s by mistake. Besides, ant poison and snail bait are really bad for the blue-headed lizard on my wall that eats ants like popcorn, and the robin whose peanut butter the snails now love to share.

Perhaps it’s just my rebellion against an environment in which so much unnecessary and wilful murder, cruelty and death occur.

So that’s why the nip in the air now is so welcome. I am eagerly anticipating colder climes, and antless and snailess vistas as their numbers decline and they hide away for winter. Whew, I feel less stressed already.

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