I am not an animal activist.
I eat meat. I wear leather. I'd wear fur if only I had the lifestyle to warrant it. I don't hunt, but have no qualms with hunters. I fish. Well, I GO fishing, I've have never caught anything. I support the Canadian commercial seal hunt. I love our dog, but if some day her quality of life is severely compromised I am prepared to make a decision about euthanasia. When the boys' goldfish was slowly dying from a months-long swim bladder infection, I gave it a final good-bye swim in a glass of vodka. I squish any bug that touches me. If an insect contravenes the Insect Non-Aggression Pact and enters my domicile, I will kill it. Especially if it's an earwig.
So you can imagine my surprise that I'm currently feeling very guilty about the state of my vermicomposter.
Back in November we purchased a multi-leveled worm composter and 800 worms. Things were going well until three weeks ago.
That's when the mites showed up. Thousands of mites. I made a good show of it. I removed what mites1 I could see. I trapped some on moistened dryer lint. I set out melon rinds to tempt them out of the soil. I tried drying out the bedding. I added crushed eggshells. Nothing works. They keep multiplying. And they are no longer interested in eating just leftover food scraps. The vile little creatures are now eating the worms. WHILE THE WORMS ARE STILL ALIVE.
I'm a big nature lover. And a big proponent of evolution. But watching natural selection play out in front of your very eyes? It's really disturbing.
I'm now faced with a dilemma: do I continue trying to rid the vermicomposter of the mites or do I humanely put the worms out of their misery? I'm also puzzled by the soul searching this has inspired. Why does it bother me to consider killing my worms when I have killed thousands and thousands of mites over the past three weeks? Surely if I can kill mites without guilt, I should be able to off the worms?
Are my feelings of guilt about killing these worms the gateway drug that begins my descent into the madness that is veganism? Because if so, I'd like someone to euthanize me. RIGHT NOW.
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1 the mites are only in the bin. They show no interest in migrating elsewhere. Thank heavens for small mercies.
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Update: Since I first drafted this post a few hours ago I've worked up my courage. I decided the humane thing to do was to put the worms -- and the blasted mites -- out of their misery. I won't go into too much detail, but I will just mention that it's -10ºC out right now.