Monday, 22 July 2019
An Honesty Dilemma
A friend of ours went on holiday and I was made to volunteer by the family to go in his house twice a week and feed his pets. By pets I don't mean dogs or cats or something just as ordinary as the rest of us would have. No ... this guy is an entomologist. In case you did not know this is the study on how to be totally and utterly boring.
Believe me, he is the world's most boring person. I believe God must love boring people seeing He created so many of them. Perhaps He created them so we can appreciate more normal people, or jovial people.
This fellow keeps insects in his house. Hundreds of them. All kinds of insects in every room. In glass cages, or tanks or whatever you call glass boxes. Some are under constant lights to keep their contents warm.
He left me a list by his front door as to what creature eats what food and how often.
Did you know that Madagascar hissing cockroaches eat fresh vegetables and dry dog food pellets? No, neither did I. But I had to throw in some pellets quickly in their tank before they got out and escaped. Do they fly, I wonder?
In another tank he had stick insects. Also known as stick-bugs or walking sticks. Basically, they are insects which look like dried sticks; sometimes green sometimes brown depending on their camouflage. They seem to stand there motionless for ages doing nothing.
He had about seven in this glass tank with a few twigs in there to make them feel at home. I looked at them and they looked at me and we made our acquaintance by just staring at each other and ignoring each other. They did look very much like the twigs they were on. I wondered, what do you call a collection of stick insects? A branch, I suppose. Of if there's more of them you call them a tree; or a dead tree.
Speaking of which, I noticed one of the insects was at the bottom of the tank on its back with its feet in the air. At first I thought it was asleep. I tapped the glass tank gently to wake it up. It did not move; but neither did the other insects. They all remained still on their twig. Part of their camouflage I suppose. There is no point in being a stick insect if at the first sight of a predator you jump up and down waving your arms in the air and shouting "Here I am!"
I tapped the glass again a bit louder. No movement whatsoever. Especially from our sleeping beauty on the bottom of the tank.
Perhaps it was a heavy sleeper. Or ... maybe it was hibernating. Do stick insects hibernate? Who knows. And who cares. I certainly was not going to search the Encyclopedia Britannica to find out. The only good use for these heavy books is to beat the hell out of insects in your home.
I remember once in a cheap hotel when I was travelling for a cheap employer I killed a cockroach in my bedroom by hitting it with a book. Within minutes the room was infested by other cockroaches who had come for the funeral.
Funerals are dull events aren't they? Not much fun in there, or hilarity. I had to attend a colleague's funeral the other day in a church I'd never attended before. I remember the church had bad wifi reception. I could not get the football scores on my cell-phone.
Anyway, there I was with a dead stick insect on my hands. Or on the bottom of his tank to be precise. What do I do? Leave him there? Will that upset his companions who might go into mourning, or go on hunger strike perhaps?
What if our friend came back from holiday and found the insect dead. Would he blame me?
Would he think the smell of my after-shave killed it? I tell you, it is the best quality after-shave I buy from the market for a few cents.
I took the lid off the glass tank in order to pick up the insect lying on its back. Perhaps I could tickle it and it would wake up. I'd have to be quick in case the other insects fly out. Do stick insects fly? Who cares?
I picked it up quickly and put it on the table. It did not move one bit. It lay on its side. I pushed it with my finger and it rolled on its back and on its other side. No sign of life whatsoever. It was as dead as the proverbial dodo. It had gone to meet its maker.
Then a thought occurred to me. What if ... ... ...
Anyway, I put a very tiny drop of glue on the end of its many tiny legs, then I opened the tank and quickly stuck it there on one of the twigs.
Now it looked just like its companions. Happily standing and doing nothing.
A few days later our friend having returned from holiday told us that something strange had happened. Apparently the female of the stick insects species lays eggs in the autumn before dying, and the new generation hatches in the spring. He was surprised how one of his females which had died before he left came to life again on his return.