After cutting the grass yesterday afternoon, I grabbed a cold drink and retreated to the shade of our front porch. Looking out over a naturalized flower bed, I discovered a wealth of activity in the hot, mid day sun. Bees, butterflies and various flies moved among the blossoms, feasting on their bounty of nectar. In the dense foliage below, beetles, crickets and other assorted bugs could be seen, hopping between stems or lounging in the shadows. Dragonflies and damselflies hovered above this suburban jungle while a spider repaired his secluded web, hoping to snare an unwary victim. Of course, there was surely a great deal more activity beyond the range of my aging vision.
Watching an ant navigate the floor of the bed, I imagined the experience of a human, shrunk to the size of these insects, as he attempted to cross this forbidding jungle. Climbing over logs of mulch and winding through the foliage, he would have to dodge carnivorous beetles and voracious spiders. Negotiating mucoid slug trails and avoiding the gaze of giant birds, he would also risk consumption by a monster toad or enormous snake, lurking in the dense vegetation; worse yet, a gardener's boot may suddenly descend from the heavens. No doubt, it would be a harrowing experience.
Imagining such a scenario gives us some appreciation for the everyday world of insects, a sector of our environment that we tend to ignore. Concentrating on the big picture, we overlook the life and death struggles that unfold around us, which, however small and out of sight, are essential to our own survival.