An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 2, 2003
issued from the woods just south of Natchez, Mississippi, USA

BOTFLY REVELATION

Back to the botflies. Back in the 70s my botfly larvae helped me understand something about nature, and reality in general.

I remember sitting quietly looking at one of the sores on my right forearm when the grub inside the sore extended its white neck to its breathing hole. The white object appearing at the hole forcefully made the point that a foreign creature had taken up residence inside my body, rather as a mouse might move into an old house. Until then I had imagined my body as being somehow inviolable with regard to such overt abuse.

Of course I knew that every human body is occupied by untold numbers of bacteria, viruses, amoebas, mites, worms and other lifeforms, but this was different. I was coming eye-to-eye with a creature who had its own needs and priorities without regard to my own mindset.

This situation clashed with the general notion that I think most of us have most of the time, and that is that since we are thinking beings with air conditioning and perfumed soap, we are excused from obeying the more messy laws of nature in general. Certainly the main Western religions teach that we humans have a touch of divinity in us, and that as such the Universe exists as a stage for the fulfillment of human destiny. My botfly maggots didn't seem to respect my spirituality.

In fact, my botfly larvae suggested that the Creator of the Universe is more interested in biological diversity -- more focused on the production and sustainability of a vast rainbow of mutually interacting species -- than in the momentary comfort or dignity of any individual organism, such as me.

During the years since my botfly revelation I have seen nothing to contradict that insight.

We all can see how human activity is impacting the Earth at this moment. Are not most of us in some kind of trancelike state of denial, believing that if we hike into the land of botflies, somehow we shall be exempt from getting bots ourselves? That if we spoil our Earth, somehow angels or a benevolent Creator will save us? Or even that spoiling the Earth is OK, because, when we all die, us good folks will go to Heaven?

I don't believe that botflies would respect such notions. Facebook Icon.