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Invasive Species

4 min read

Life is all around us.  Mother Nature shows us her dominion over us – Every. Single. Day. She gives us reasons to be grateful to her – Every. Single. Day.  And we, her spoiled brats continually take, take and take.  Not only do we not show gratitude, like terrible two-year olds throwing temper tantrums, we seek to destroy instead of to live in harmony.

I wake up early so that I can see and celebrate the sunrise every morning and I am not alone.  Many animals:  chickens, monkeys, dogs, birds and insects also rise early so that they can partake of this miracle and they are at their loudest, most boisterous and energetic at this time.  The decibel of their revelry rises with the sun and their concert crescendo’s when Ra[1] finally breaks through and its first rays can be seen.  The volume of the party dies down once the sun has completely emerged and the merry-making animals go about their business.  I’m not sure what any of it means but I enjoy it immensely.

Yesterday there was a particularly loud mynah bird who, uncharacteristically, continued warbling at the top of his lungs throughout the day.  The behavior of this chatty mynah bird sparked my curiosity about the species and as I am wont to do, I consulted with the oracle/crystal ball aka the internet in search of wisdom.

I learned that mynah birds, native to India and Southeast Asia, sing their song to warn their mates of predators in the area and also as notification that they are about to fly.  My next question/step down the rabbit hole was “well, what animals prey upon mynah birds?” but before I could actually find the answer, I was distracted by page after page of stories about mynah birds being characterized as an “invasive species,” particularly in Australia.  I quickly deduced that Man is one of the mynah birds’ most dangerous predators…

One might accurately think it odd that a bird that is native to India, especially one considered “territorial,” would endeavor to make a long and arduous trek across the Indian Ocean.  One might surmise that such odd behavior/great feat could only be predicated by a strong mating instinct or in search of food which was scarce at home; or perhaps Oz has just has an irresistible combination of both “some strange”[2] and some damn delicious bugs.  Of course, none of the above is the case – the Australian government[3] brought in the mynah birds to rid the region of some pesky insects.

I’m not sure when the Australian authorities are going to learn their lesson with this strategy.  Google “introduced animals Australia” if you want to read a tragicomedy on Australia’s repeated failures using this tactic which includes proliferation of wild camels, rabbits, cane toads, buffalo, goats, pigs, fleas and dung beetles; it is a ridiculous real-life version of “The Old Woman who Swallowed the Fly.”  While the tactic of introducing natural predators in order to decrease the population of their prey has failed to yield the expected results, it has certainly proven that life strives for itself and can sustain itself even outside of its natural habitat.

We constantly work to rid our homes and lives of animals and insects that we consider to be nuisances or invasive because they affect our things.  We struggle every day to rid ourselves of even mold and mildew; those fascinating organisms that require nothing more than a bit of moisture and lack of sunlight to survive, breed and multiply.  Imagine actually being able to thrive in the darkness! 

There is a mold that grows on the floor of the forest whose main purpose is population control.  It kills ants and plants alike and keeps the ratio of insects to plants balanced so that all can survive in the long-run.  Mold, insects, plants and trees have had this symbiotic relationship for millennia.

When mold appears in our homes and on our clothes, it is simply doing what it has always done:  growing in concert with its partners in nature.  And we in our infinite wisdom and lab coats concoct chemicals to prevent the spread of these organisms so that they do not destroy our precious belongings.  Perhaps mold and mildew in our homes is one of Mother Nature’s tactics for keeping us in check.  Perhaps she is saying “if you have so much stuff that you must keep it stored away in a dark space for an extended period of time then perhaps you, my friend, have too much stuff.” 

Why should we, humans, be exempt from the equilibrium of the natural world?  Black mold infestations in houses?  Perhaps a sign that we are not living in accordance with or are out of balance with our environments and that there are too many houses or inorganic materials within a particular area.  Is Mother Nature providing a wake-up call?

Mice, mosquitoes, cockroaches and spiders are also living things that we don’t want in or near our homes.  A little research will show that they have all been around for far longer than us so perhaps it is not they who are the unwanted visitors in our abodes but we who have invaded their ancestral homes.

We fret over and weed our beautiful lawns and put up signs and fences to prevent people and animals from walking on them because we want them to appear pretty when we look at them.  We deny animals, children and living beings from feeling the earth beneath their feet which is one of the most natural and enjoyable feelings in the world.  Perhaps the reason that we find lawns so attractive is not because they are simply pleasing to the eye but because the thought of feeling that beautiful, thick grass; and soft, fertile soil beneath our feet is so damn appealing.  Perhaps it is our souls and not our eyes that find lawns pretty.

We cut down trees from the places where they grow organically and where they have thrived naturally for eons and then plant others in places where they have no business and then we are upset and confused about climate change.  Mother Nature is not confused for she fights with all of her might to thrive (consider palm trees in the desert of Los Angeles or grass in the forestry of Pennsylvania).  Mother Nature survives because that’s what she does but there is ultimately a price to be paid:  droughts, blights, floods, unseasonably cold and hot weather, etc.  Newton summed it up best when he said that every action does indeed have an equal and opposite reaction.

Every plant, tree and organism has an impact on our planet.  Every square centimeter of our world is in itself a micro ecosystem teeming with life that often cannot be seen with the naked human eye. Don’t take my word for it; just ask researchers attempting to conduct experiments in labs or any operating room staff.  If we continue to carelessly upset ecosystems, large and small, then of course there will be huge and long-lasting effects; the biggest impact of which will be to our own species.  The plants and animals will outlive us because they are far more conscientious, adaptable and apparently, wiser.

Mother Nature is not vindictive; she simply strives for a balance and diversity of life.  Mother Nature has our number for we are probably the most invasive species of them all.  Perhaps our efforts and lives would be better spent if we appreciated our moments and treated each other and the world in which we live with kindness, compassion and gratitude instead of trying to find ways to outsmart Mother Nature.  Maybe we ought to consider expending our energy enjoying the days we have instead of trying to extend them.  When it comes to life, like most things, quality is far better than quantity.

[1] Ra is the Egyptian Sun God

[2] “Some strange” is slang for sex with a new or different partner

[3] Australia is not alone in this undertaking; New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and countries in North America have also implemented this scheme

 

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