A reader is asking why mosquitoes, horse flies, ticks and other biting insects exist. It’s a fact that for those who are far from nature, or who visit nature only occasionally these insects can be a real nuisance. In certain circumstances they can even be dangerous. My brother lost a dog which he had tied up in a place he didn’t realize was infested with biting insects one evening. When he came back, the dog was covered in blood and died a few days later from the thousands of small wounds inflicted on him. Horrible. Thus, to understand the importance these insects have in the ecosystems and especially in the life of men becomes problematic.
First of all, it’s important to understand that when we live close to nature like all aboriginal indigenous nations all over the earth, all of nature remains in balance. Even more modern agricultural communities, like the Amish, as long as they limit their use of technology, will remain in balance with nature. When Man deviates from this balance, for example, if he begins eating animals and fish while living a sedentary lifestyle, as his biology is not adapted to animal protein, toxins and poisons are going to accumulate in his body. The Man has a very special place within nature. Being the god, the goddess of the world, the ecosystem does not understand why suddenly one who was the love and king of their innumerable subjects (the animals) suddenly begins eating them. There is intelligence in the ecosystems, in the environment. If machines rip up open fields, polluting the earth, if pollution falls from the sky, if Man is no longer the guardian of paradise but its destroyer, suddenly ticks become vectors of disease. Nature will protect itself and Man has become a danger.
But balance can still exist between Man and the insects. Here are a few examples taken from my own experience.
Once we were in a deer reserve, a vast enclosure of several square kilometres where were being kept a large herd of roe deer. As you can imagine, in the Laurentine Forest in Quebec, at the beginning of June, when animals were kept in a wide perimeter, but nevertheless smaller than their usual environment, mosquitoes, black flies, brulots, horse flies, deer flies and moose flies were quite plentiful. A very important elder, who had been my mentor for many years, Sun Bear, had just passed away. I carry the sacred pipe and its medicine He so graciously passed on to me. He was my closest and most important teacher, a father for me. We created a medicine wheel from his teachings on a small hill and were going there to offer ceremony for His passing. As we were climbing the hill I was holding the pipe with both hands as He taught me, and thus not able to defend myself against the mosquitos. I had dozens on my hands as it was sunset the time they come out. Of course there were many other kinds of biting flies also. We arrived and sat in the circle around the wheel and after a few prayers and smudging I lit the pipe. Instantly, as some miracle, no more flies! We spoke about it after the ceremony and the experience of the whole group had been the same. During the ceremony there had not been a single fly to torment us. During the duration of this ceremony, I was able to concentrate completely on what was for me an extremely important and emotional prayer. When finished I separated the stone from the stem. In seconds, hundreds of flies.
This story illustrates that flies, as all other inhabitants of mother earth, are in harmony with natural true spirituality. They respond to the order of the universe and are essential to nature’s balance and equilibrium.
It’s even possible to communicate with insects. I’ve seen this several times. The one time I did this was when I was in my twenties, at the very beginning of my spiritual path. My elders had made me aware of the intelligence in all life. I was taking care of a four apartment building where I was also living to make my rent cheaper as it was a much neglected place. This also gave me the opportunity to get special funds to renovate my apartment as the owner was old and had no time or money for us. I was often seeing the same flat-looking insects. Curious, I put one in a match box and brought it to an exterminator. I asked him what it was. He said it was a “blatte germanique” a cockroach. He was going to throw it in the garbage still alive. “Whoa, give me that!”, I said. I brought it back to my apartment and set it on the kitchen table. I talked to it saying: “I understand you are doing good work here cleaning this very neglected and dirty building. My apartment is clean and I have people coming here to pray and meditate. You can continue living here but I want you to advise your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, relations, friends and the whole community that I never want to see you again in this apartment.” And I left it there on the kitchen table. Fifteen minutes later it was gone. I never did see another cockroach in my quarters. Yet, several times I had the other residents call me in panic because there were lots of cockroaches in their apartments. Once we counted 24 in their bath tub!
Biting flies can also be therapists. Mosquitoes in particular are acupuncturists! They know where to prick.
One early morning, I was practising the sacred Cherokee dances which helps me maintain good health and harmony with my environment. During this dance came a mosquito. It came suddenly, like a missile, directly to my right ear. In that second it pricks me which is very sudden for a mosquito. I know, thus I let it do its work. I continue to dance. With the acute twinge throbbing through my ear, I knew it was doing an important job. It finishes very quickly and leaves. Immediately I feel my vision clearing up, as if a small veil had been removed from my eyes. No itch, no discomfort.
If we know how to take advantage of the free services of these winged therapists, we can receive many benefits. When I come back from a tiring tour in polluted Europe, I always take a moment to go sit in the shrubs on my domain. That first time they really bite me, I really have a hard time with it but then it’s done. Although I spend hours on my domain every morning, I rarely see a biting insect. I’m in harmony with this modest piece of land that I protect and where I’ve made peace with my environment.
Here is another example. Every summer, wasps make their paper nest always in a different place, but always near my path or near my house. Once with other shamans who were on visit we did a ceremony to ask why. The master spirit of all wasps answered in the name of that colony that they were protecting my small acre of land. One summer this paper nest was on a shrub at the level of my hips just next to the path where I walk every morning. They had never bothered me despite being so close. One hot summer morning a wasp stings me on an exposed knee. I’m a bit angry with it, but quickly realize that the prick is strange, it doesn’t hurt much and the inflammation quickly disappears, all the opposite of a real wasp sting. The next day, another one pricks me on the same knee! On that day the knee pain that I’d had for over 3 months disappears. That was the only time wasps has stung me in all these years of being close to them.
But before reaching such balance with nature, it’s important to find other solutions. Biting insects don’t like smoke. Indigenous people always have a smoke fire going in the summer. Also nomadic tradition has them camping close to wide expanses of water in the summer, the beautiful lakes of our territory, as the wind also blows them away. Encourage the dragonflies, as they are not only beautiful, but eat hundreds of insects. Bats also eat thousands of flying insects and are very important for the ecology. Essential oil of hemlock, cedar, lavender, cloves, citronella, etc. make excellent repellents and are natural. They are available on boutiqueaiglebleu.com
We can consider the sting of a fly as a stimulant of the immune system. The small, tiny, but frequent wounds strengthen the wholesome and important response of our natural immunity.
If we slap a mosquito when its stinger is in us, the stinger will remain under the skin and cause a little inflammation. If we let it be, it will remove its stinger when it leaves and there will be a lot less inflammation. If we let the biting insects do their work and try to bear as much as possible these small inconveniences, there will come a time when they will prick us a lot less. We’ll also learn to be a lot less irritable and reactive. If we’re always irritated and swaying them away, our frantic gestures will attract them. Thus, more and more frustrated, in disharmony, deprived of their healing and estranged from nature.
Never forget that all insects have their place and importance in the overall ecology. Because of our destructive actions there is now disharmony in the insect world and we do need to be super careful. Ticks in many parts of the world have become poisonous. Yet, on a family domain the relationships will all insects will slowly start moving back to where we are in complete harmony with those important beings of the natural world.
There is numerous reasons for which they are so present today… If you take time to reflect on this you will find why. It’s important to find our balance with nature. Our harmony with all species is a part of this harmony.
May your reflections be profound. Have a happy summer!
Peace and Light