Monday, August 03, 2009

Spider vs. Wasp

Recently I was enjoying an amazing vegetarian Indian buffet at the Mango Grove in Columbia, when I noticed through the window an epic battle was being waged between a spider in her web and a large black wasp that had become entrapped in said web.

The wasp still had a lot of fight left in him. Most of his body was free, but though he struggled valiantly, thrashing his large body to and fro, he couldn't seem to free himself from the delicate threads ensnaring him. The spider, a particularly small, delicate, leggy fellow, almost translucent, was not patiently awaiting his victim to tire himself and give up. Perhaps he feared the strength of his prey would eventually allow escape, or perhaps he hadn't had a meal in some time and was as eager to begin on his lunch as I was when I loaded up my plate with the aromatic curries moments ago. Whatever his motivation, his purpose was clear: paralyze the wasp with venom and end his thrashing that was slowly but steadily destroying the carefully crafted net. The wasp would tire of his struggling and lie still for several seconds, and the spider would begin to descend, ready for the endgame. The wasp would wearily note death's approach and begin anew his panicked struggle to stay alive, sending the smaller, weaker of the two scuttling just out of reach to safety.

I found myself (I, who used to be late to class in gradeschool for stopping along the way to rescue every earthworm who found himself in the middle of the pavement and was in danger of being fried by the afternoon sun or tread upon by uncaring pedestrians, gently placing them in the cool shady grass) wondering if I should intervene in this Discover-Channel-esque life and death battle for survival. My initial instinct was to free the thrashing flier from his fate at the hands of one of the insects I most despise (horrifying, evil-looking, venom-filled hunters) and perhaps I naturally side with the victim. However, wasps are also hateful creatures who wouldn't hesitate to stab you with their poison dagger, who send children running and screaming in fear as they buzz menacingly around a Sunday picnic. And furthermore, freeing the wasp to go on his merry way and fulfill his future destiny of destroying birthday parties and family reunions in the park could very well seal the fate of the poor hungry hunter - its not as though a spider who has been robbed of his dinner can settle for a juicy carrot or an apple.

In the end I did as the nature videographers who capture the footage we watch on the Discovery Channel do- they observe but don't intervene in the course of nature, as hard as it may be sometimes. For if you save the baby wildebeast from the lioness' clutches, the lion cubs may meet that dark fate instead.