Growing up, I watched Dateline and those true crime exposé shows like Snapped and Deadly Women. I was drawn in by the dramatic style of how those real-life stories were presented, though the reenactments were my least favorite. It was fascinating to sometimes see real interviews from people who knew the murderers on a personal level. Some of them were in disbelief that the person they were familiar with could do something so bad. So when they would say, “He/She wouldn’t hurt a fly”, of course I get that the term is used to describe someone who is harmless. But on a more literal level, I couldn’t help but want to roll my eyes every time examples were used from the murderer’s childhood of how he/she was kind to animals or saved worms from drowning during rainstorms, as if nice deeds done as a kid is supposed to make someone not capable of murder.
I don’t think killing a bug and killing a person can be compared on the same wavelength, though I certainly do feel bad when I kill a bug (and I don’t ever intend to know the experience of what it’s like to kill a person…). It’s not a human, but it is still a living being who is just trying to survive too.
Today I got an unexpected surprise in my orchid’s outer saucer. For a visual, the saucer is kind of like a teacup saucer except its sides are raised up similar to a container’s sides. Inside the saucer, I fit in a clear plastic pot that has my orchid dipped in about an inch of water. There appeared to be a small discolored brownish leaf sticking to the bottom of the saucer, and I saw it through the clear plastic at first. Looking for a few more seconds, I realized from the twitching antennas that it was a penny-sized moth. The image that came to my mind was that I would find a way to keep it contained, push open my window, and let it free to the outdoors. It was clearly stuck inside the teeny space between the inside of the saucer and the plastic pot. I was trying to use the plastic pot to close in the space even more (without crushing it) to keep it in but then it tried to fly upwards. That sudden movement freaked me out. I panicked thinking about how troublesome it’d be if the moth got loose in my room and disappeared. I did not want to consider it laying eggs and reproducing, either. I was somewhat intimidated by its erratic fluttering and I actually jumped away for a second out of fear.
Then it was like my body was on autopilot figuring out a way to stop it from flying. Ugh. It was as if I wasn’t even thinking and moving the pot on instinct. It partially crushed against one of the moth’s wings. The angle against the saucer was awkward so it didn’t flatten the moth’s upper body; meaning the head and antennas were still intact. At this point I knew I made a mistake but there was no going back because I ruined the wings and the poor thing wouldn’t be able to survive. I thought I better give it a quick death in one single flattening to spare it the pain, though what actually happened was horrible. I couldn’t get the side of the pot to push against the moth’s whole body. So even when I pressed into the entire span of its wings, the head was still untouched. Finally somehow the moth fell to the actual bottom of the saucer and I used the bottom of the pot on it. I’ve smushed lots of bugs before with the flat bottom of something; a tissue box, a book, a fly swatter. Every time I would see the battered remains of the insect sticking to the bottom after I did the deed and calmly wipe the residue off with a wet tissue, but as I happened to be using the bottom of a clear plastic pot this time, I could what it looked like for the moth to crushed to death in real time. It was so macabre. And terrible because it didn’t die instantly so I kept smushing it with the bottom until its antennas gave one last final twitch. RIP little nameless moth. 😦
I felt so bad afterward that I still haven’t disposed of the body. Had I attempted to let it free outdoors the first time I messed up its wing, it might not have been able to fly. I also don’t even know if the moth could live outside in the current low temperatures and it might have died either way. I’ve killed a lot of insects in my lifetime. I know they’re just bugs but it’s crazy to think about the kind of violence I’m capable of on that level, though I never want to try it on a human.