Aunt Linda here:
Walking home this humid evening, and exactly as I was gazing up at the gorgeous, dark grey, monsoon clouds, a tiny insect flew right into my eye. Ironically, I had been admiring the bats just above me, swooping and eating insects with both efficiency and drama. The tiny bug now in my eye, had somehow escaped their skill, yet flew right into my moist eye, where it became stuck, wriggled a bit, and then met its end in involuntary blinking of eyelids.
Which got me thinking about life and death in the worlds of insects.
Over the past few days I have been watching one particular spider. Hiding itself under a similarly colored part of the plant, it is quite the hunter. Strategically situated above the birdbath designated as a primary water sources for honeybees, it has cast its web, and quite efficiently catches and eat bees.
Now, if you find that you are a bit squeamish about these photos you are not alone.
Many in this culture have lives and palates and plates, very much disassociated from their food sources. Much of our food had become de-animalized and is often unrecognizable from its original source. Insects have no distance between themselves and their sources of nourishment. This is perhaps one reason that we wince a bit when we see such raw feasting before us.
I suspect that there may be more going on for us than that, however. It is possible that we are rooting for the sweet bee. After all, it is a HONEY bee. It is fuzzy, and cute, and provides it’s own species (as well as ours) with delicious honey! It may be the one insect on the planet — , (but I am not an entomologist, so please chime in with corrections or tweaks if you are one) — that actually enhances the flowers/plants from which it “takes” its food. It does not take a life as some insects do. It does not harm one leaf or petal. It leaves plants “stronger” than they were before it’s visit to gather pollen and nectar.
So, perhaps, when we wince at scenes like the ones in this post, some part of us feels a metaphorical, or archetypal, pinging somewhere inside us. That of the Monster. Eating the Hero, or in this case, the Heroine. Myths, children’s stories, and movies, are full of Monsters. And here, right in our own back yards, we find this multi-legged, relatively ugly (to all but the most arachnida-loving predator or human), weird eyed monster eating our Sweet Honey Bee.
Ah. But things in Life, and in stories/movies, are not always what they seem. The sweet honey bee has a sting and powerful venom that is not subtle. And spiders are amazing allies, weird appearances aside, as their diets keep overpopulation, and therefore disease, in check. Even inside our homes, where we generally do not welcome spiders nor monsters, they are powerful allies for humans. For several years now, I have allowed spiders to live and hunt in the corners and crannies of our old adobe home. (Being selective is obviously important; I don’t welcome black widows for example.) Co-habitation with them is mutually beneficial. Our home provides them with a happy hunting ground with few predators, while they rid the house of SIGNIFICANT numbers of mosquitoes and flies. Getting a good night sleep without that incessant mosquito whine, is but one benefit. For me, they are the equivalent of having a cat that is a skilled “mouser”. Home spiders also eat fleas and flies and cockroaches.; some even eat black widows.
I wish I had a black widow-eating -spider in one of my hives. In nearly 20 years of being in and out of hives, this is the only one in which I have a problem. (see photo above). But for two consecutive years, beginning about this time of year, when I open up the hives there they are. Black bodies, egg sacks, and bees all tied up in webs. I admit to smooshing these red-8 abdominal spiders and their egg sacs with my hive tool. Yuck. Having a spider to do Black Widow Patrol for me would be so much nicer.
So, sometimes foes are foes; and friends are friends. Othertimes, who/what we think of as foes are actually friends. When we can adjust our focus to include that possibility, now that is when the world can open up.
Foes as Friends Fudge:
(makes five thick fudge rounds or 9 thin ones)
This fudge, I have to say, may be a Super Food. It’s ingredients that are so healthy, that this fudge might even be considered medicinal.
The Must Have ingredients
– 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, melted
– 1/3 cup of (local) honey (healthier than sugar; and honors insects)
– 1/2 cup cacao (unsweetened)
– 2 tablespoons almond butter (play around with this; try peanut butter)
– a few tablespoons of fresh mint and a few mint flower (leave the lion share of flowers on the plant for bees)
– 3 Tablespoons Goji berry powder or berries (Goji Berries are also Wolf Berries, which grow right here in the South West and are considered a power food)
– 3 Tablespoons Cacao nibs
– Put all the ingredients (except the nibs) in an electric mixer (I used as Cuisinart but am sure you could use one of those submersible mixers and mix it al right together in a bowl) and blend.
– Place parchment paper in a cupcake or muffin pan; or if you want squares, place parchment in a pan. Pour mixture into the parchment/pan and freeze for 15 minutes for thinner rounds and 20 for thicker.
– Refrigerate. Left at room temperature these will melt a bit.