My 30 Minutes at the Bottom of the Food Chain

I mowed half the back yard one day when I got home from work.  The reason I didn’t finish?  Was I too tired to continue? Did I need to get chores done inside?  Was I leaving it for my children to do? Did the charge run out on the mower?  No, none of those reasons applies to this situation.  After thirty minutes of work I was tired of being a human popsicle for the recently hatched hordes of black flies which have invaded my yard!


For those purists, entomologists, biologists etc. out there let me just say that I am a trained musician and an humanities teacher and not a scientist.  For all I know the black flies who were snacking on me so merrily may be days old, they aren’t really at the bottom of the food chain etc.   All I know is that the day before when I mowed the front yard there weren’t any flies and today I was having trouble avoiding inhaling the stupid things as they swarmed around me and my lawn mower.


I understand that the black flies need to eat in order to survive to reproduce.  I understand that there are spiders, bats, and birds who need the flies fattened up to make good meals for them.  I understand how the food cycle works, but I am used to being at the top of the chain!  I am supposed to be the eater, not the eaten!  After-all, weren’t Adam and Eve given, ” dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth… every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”(Genesis 1:28-29)?


We humans are generally quite proud of all we have accomplished.  We have developed ways to produce more food on a small piece of land than it was ever intended to yield.  We have found ways of preserving our food so that we may have things to eat when they are not even in season (I’ll be freezing bags of fiddleheads any day now for use next winter).  Many of us could go through our whole lives without really facing the fact that those nice tidy cuts of meat we buy on the styrofoam trays at the grocery store were once live animals who bled when they died. 


Our one remaining real issue in the developed world?  Biting insects!  Look at the panic caused by an outbreak of bedbugs in North America, and look at all ingenuity we have put into ridding ourselves of mosquitoes and black flies.  There are citronella candles and sprays, bug sprays of all sorts, mesh suits which are so fine that the biting insects can not get through.  We have propane based contraptions that claim to clear 1/2 acre areas of flies.  We have pesticides which are sprayed over vast areas in some places.


Since we have this dominion, and the technology etc. and cannibalism is such a taboo in almost every human society, we have little to fear from the food chain.  I think we need to be thankful for reminders of how the prey animals feel. It is humbling, and heaven knows most of us need practice being humble!

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