Column Ilja: Planet of the insects

Critters in the kitchen? Read this typical Wageningen tip for a solution.

Don’t look up is what best describes the current situation in my student kitchen. Unless, of course, you are a fan of biology and all the miracles of the food web. A flour moth larvae dangles from the ceiling. And another, there, in the corner. The standard protocol is to grab a stool and a tissue, squash the larvae and throw them in the trash. Repeat on a daily basis until you die or no longer live in a student house.

We live on a planet of insects. Planet Bug, so to speak. According to Google, there are one billion insects for each human on the planet. I suspect that my personal billion insects all live in this house. When I was doing my biology bachelor’s, I once applied for a side job at a company that breeds insects as a protein source. Very typically Wageningen. The job description specifically stated you should not be bothered by creeping and crawling insects. I stated in my cover letter that ‘as a biologist and Wageningen student, bugs don’t faze me in the least.’ When I was invited for an interview, I realised that was an outright lie, and I really didn’t want to touch the small insects. I prefer to look at them through a microscope or read about all the good they do for our planet. I support them from afar. I decided to forget about the side job, quit biology and focus on policy instead.

We live on a planet of insects. Planet Bug, so to speak.

I suspect adult flour moths emerge in their adult form and simply appear out of thin air. Suddenly, there is a brown-grey moth on the wall that disintegrates into a soft powder if you squash it. According to Google, you must discard all the food they have come into contact with, thoroughly clean your kitchen cabinets and hope they don’t return. Because this is a hopeless task and throwing everything out each month is a waste of food, we have decided to accept the situation. We no longer look up; we are true Wageningen citizens. The occasional insect is cooked with the rice, but hey, insects are the protein source of the future, so we are already contributing.

Ilja Bouwknegt (25) is a master’s student in Forest and Nature Conservation. Ilja is interested in the relationship between humans and nature and prefers to try every hobby at least once. Currently, that is crochet, but writing remains the undisputed favourite.

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