Nature in the City: Bugs and Beyond

Wasp on computer

The most empowering context that we as human beings have created for ourselves as a species is the possibility of language. Creation of words to fit the world that we live in gives us the power to control it and manipulate it. So, while language has a collective, a supra-organic existence, an existence outside of each one of us, it is only because we all continue to use it to describe our world, that it exists. For this is the only way we have created to understand the physical world around us.

Today I went out to the garden for a walk after a long time. The overcast sky made it easier. I was very present to the environment around me and what did I notice. There were a lot of mites, fruit flies, Lady bugs, dung beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, dragon flies, black bugs bees, wasps and blue bottles around. Then there were earthworms, slugs and snails crawling around. An amazing diversity and variety in the middle of a city existed that I was not even aware of.

I realized the impact of not noticing these bugs that exist all around me. I realized that they contribute immensely to our physical environment, by pollinating flowers, turning the soil, cleaning up the dung. I realized that I was not even aware that I am not aware of the contribution that these little living things make to my life.  I had not appreciated the little things in my environment all this while. I do not appreciate the little things in my environment. I will never appreciate the little things in my environment.

I justify not taking responsibility for the environment by creating a language that says this does not apply to urban metropolitan cities like Delhi.  I say environment and its impacts and climate change is for rural people and people living in vulnerable ecosystems. And not me and my community in cities. I justify not taking responsibility for environment by saying that it is not my job for our language tells us that nature doesn’t exist in the city.

I am caught up in a vicious cycle. I do not appreciate my bugs and the environment, so I cannot think of what to do what actions to take to preserve the environment. It reminded me of Calvin in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbs. Calvin is a little boy who has a stuffed tiger as a pet. Tiger is real for him. Hobbs asked Calvin ‘why do you have a bug collection?’ And Calvin answers ‘Because it is there.’


Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years, Gialome (pseudonym) is mainly concerned with the impacts of infrastructure and technology projects on local communities.

2 thoughts on “Nature in the City: Bugs and Beyond

  1. True! But what is important is to realize what is ‘nature’ to us, living in the cities. The ideas of both “controlled nature” as well as “consuming nature” that are akin to the city-dweller give us a completely different perception of the greens….manicured gardens versus the wild greens!

  2. I dont think your statement is justified. The people in urban areas are just ignorant to the environment but when you actually see a green place around, you automatically feel good from the inside just like one feels good when it rains . So , its just that we appreciate nature when it is presented in a pretty form to us ( people go to hill stations and get inspired by the serene environent , whereas we can create the same around us by keeping things clean and green) and we run from correcting it from a bad shape when we ourselves are responsible for making it bad .

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