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Is it wrong to kill bugs?

Updated on November 22, 2008

Well, is it wrong to kill weeds? On the surface, these seem like different questions, because we think of bugs as animated things, as alive as we are and potentially able to experience pain and fear. Anyone who has seen a bug run for its life when you turn on the light and expose him in the middle of the kitchen floor is sure that the bug is more scared than they are. Of course, if you’ve been chased across the kitchen by a giant cockroach, like I have, you may attribute other emotions to them as well!

There are people who believe plants have feelings as well, and respond happily to singing and cringe at pruning and poisoning. Looking at the issue in this way, bugs and weeds are on a more similar basis than we might originally consider.

Bugs munching leaves into skeletons

What is a bug?

A popular definition of a weed is “a plant growing where it is not wanted.” What if we consider a bug as “any insect (or spider, etc.) crawling where it is not wanted?”

You would have no reason to go and pull “weeds” in a field and no reason to kill “bugs” on the sidewalk. However, you would pull—kill, that is—weeds in your garden just as you would kill bugs in your house. It’s the “whereness” of a weed or a bug that makes it unwanted and therefore targeted for removal or destruction.

There are many reasons not to want to live with bugs in your home or garden. The grossness factor is one. Studies may tell us we eat spiders in our sleep, but who wants to eat more than necessary? Seriously, houseflies, mosquitoes and other common bugs can transmit diseases and encourage other bugs and mice or rats to move in as well. Bugs also destroy food, clothing and furniture and garden plants. They might also look tasty to your inquisitive toddler! Out of place and out of control, bugs do not mix well with people.

Plants are alive too

The Findhorn Garden Story: Inspired Color Photos Reveal the Magic
The Findhorn Garden Story: Inspired Color Photos Reveal the Magic

A very interesting garden community where the plants "told" the growers what to do!

Bug in the wrong place!
Bug in the wrong place!

What to do about bugs?

Like many things we prefer not to moralize over, the best answer is to avoid the argument in the first place. Don’t put the welcome mat out for bugs and then punish them for waltzing in and making themselves at home in your house or garden!

Insects are one of nature’s ways of cleaning things up; you don’t see fruit flies on fresh fruit, but let those plums and pears get overripe in the bowl or leave apple cores sitting out too long and fruit flies will appear out of nowhere. A clean house doesn’t encourage bugs the way a dirty one may. (I know, even running a clean house doesn’t eliminate the need for regular exterminations in some regions.)

Healthy plants don’t attract bugs the way sick plants do; a healthy plant may have its own ways to fend off insects through ingenious chemical methods that can actually poison invading bugs! However, weeds and bugs still get into spaces they’re not wanted, no matter how clean.

I even heard somewhere that cockroaches LIKE soap!

Kids books on bugs just provide the basics you want!

unknown bug on a footbridge
unknown bug on a footbridge

Bottom Line

The answer, I think, is to kill as few bugs as you must. Evict or kill them only inside your home and do so as quickly and cleanly as you can. (I spray the spot of the kill afterward if it involved blood or guts!)

Discourage them from entering your home and garden (there are some insects you want in your garden) as necessary. Insects are part of the ecosystem and the natural food chain. Other living creatures and plants depend on them as many insects are destined to be some bird’s breakfast or other creature’s dinner. However, that ecosystem doesn’t operate much in your home!

Bottom line, leave the bugs on the sidewalk alone and kick them out of your house!


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      meena 5 years ago

      I can't stand bugs in two places:

      1. When I'm taking a shower. (I just feel so vulnerable)

      2. In my room when I'm about to sleep. (Again, vulnerable)

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      Irulz22 7 years ago

      Do you think that we should kill a scorpion even if we see it in a feild. I have been stung by a scorpion befor and it is not fun. So I feel a biased feeling for bugs and aracnids

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      Rolpie 7 years ago

      What about spiders? They are very threatening