The Boring Word About Creatures Great and Small

August 14, 1985

When I put the dog out the other evening I tripped over a box covered with piece of styrofoam insulation and weighted down with three good sized rocks. “What’s this on the porch” I inquired. “Oh, that’s my inch worm’s house,” was the answer from the kitchen.

Some people actually spend money to get rid of the little creatures we give names, housing and nourishment to during the summer.

We started the creature season this year with frog eggs, you know, that slimy jelly-like mass that is supposed to turn into tadpoles then frogs? Our bucketful was divided into two containers and taken to school. A few weeks later they came back (what an odor) with two tadpoles that had made it into this life.

Since then we have chased butterflies with nets, held earthworm races, investing in a special container in order to watch our specimens more closely and after Girl Scout Day Camp had jars of caterpillars, crayfish, beetles, minnows and grasshoppers all over the garage.

We have a three foot long, one foot high brick toad house in the back yard and one night when I checked on my daughter at bedtime she was building a similar version in her room made out of cardboard bricks for a toad that was, ”just too small to stay outside.”

A few years ago I applauded this interest in the creatures of nature, but after season of caterpillars that never spin cocoons in a shoebox, fireflies that die in jars, toads that escape and tentworms that always send up on the picnic table, I am a little less enthusiastic.

I think Michelle, age eleven, is ready to outgrow this stage. The other day she “rescued” a ladybug at the swimming pool, took her home for the night and the next day (after a little coaxing) announced the bug was ready for the real world and allowed her to fly away.

However, Julie is seven and names every ant that crawls into the kitchen. The only solution seems to be to stop buying shoes and peanut butter in order to create a housing shortage or face the inevitable and let nature take its course.