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Lessons Of A Child Entomologist Essay

1279 words - 6 pages

Lessons of a Child Entomologist

The screaming began after someone on the playground killed a stinkbug. With looks of horror and disgust on their faces, my classmates who had been near the insect fled, pinching their noses as they shouted, "Ew! Stinkbug!" I witnessed the chaos from another section of the playground, where I had been kicking the sand around in search of colorful rocks. I watched the scene with curiosity. Did stinkbugs really smell so vile? I wanted to find out, but I couldn't very well rush towards the scene as the others raced away, otherwise I would be nicknamed Stinkbug Lover forever and ever (at least a week in kid years). I waited until my peers were distracted ...view middle of the document...

On one occasion, I watched a trail of ants carrying off the remnants of a dead insect I had squished a few days earlier. The ants marched in a single-file line up to their meal, and then, after collecting a tasty portion of it, circled back around in the opposite direction. I flicked one of the ants off its path and observed its reaction. Ordinarily, I would have thoughtlessly pressed down on the ant with my thumb, but that day I waited, fascinated, as I saw it skitter this way and that, frantically waving its antennae in the air. As I watched the ant's panicked movements, a new insight dawned on me: its suffering was the source of my power. By removing the ant from the chemical trail that led back to its anthill, I had disrupted this little ant's life, probably ruining its chances of finding its way back home. True, I had a similar control over the lives of the dolls I occasionally played with, but these ants were much more than imaginary playmates. These ants were alive. I was mesmerized by their unscripted responses to my actions. I realized then that the real fun lay not in the instant death of insects but in their slow suffering.

Because they were so easy to capture, I spent my early days performing my torture experiments on ants alone. At first, my methods were simple. I made the ants endure what I thought were the scariest experiences of all: drowning and darkness. Unfortunately, the results of these experiments were rather unexciting. The ants drowned the second I dropped them into pools of water. And the ants I trapped inside cardboard boxes had no fear of the dark, or if they did, they did not die from it. I knew if I wanted to see interesting results I had to step up my torture methods, to allow myself to unleash my imagination and become truly evil. So I cooked them on light bulbs until they curled into little balls with their legs and antennae tangled up, or I pinched off their heads and let them run around distractedly until they died. It was sick, what I did to these ants, but I couldn't help myself. It was a pleasure to see things squirm.

As I continued to terrorize the insect kingdom over the following months, my victim selection became more diverse, my methods more complex. At the height of my power, I performed sophisticated cryogenic experiments on grasshoppers. They were difficult to capture, but if I managed to keep them from popping through the gaps between my skinny fingers, I would store them in a Ziploc bag, shake them around a bit (just because I could), and toss them...

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