A few weeks ago I intentionally killed insects for the first time that I can remember in my life. They were two fruit flies resting on my backpack when I went to unload fruit from the grocery store. I think they did not come home from the grocery store with me, but had come from within my house to greet my new fruit. I smashed their bodies against my backpack cloth with whatever piece of paper was in my hand. I killed them without even thinking, as if out of habit, but I had no habit. I had the opposite of a habit. Previously, I had sometimes taken bugs outside and let them go, but mostly had ignored them altogether, opting for no interaction of any character. This was different. For a week, I had been more than fair to the fruit flies, I felt. I didn’t want them in my house, and I had taken great pains to keep food locked away, to deter them, to allow them to live when it would have been far easier and faster just to kill them. How could they show up so brazenly to eat and fuck and have kids in my new fruit? I don’t even have kids. I had made so many concessions to these flies, and they had made absolutely none to me. Those fruit flies crossed a line in our shared interspecial moral universe that day, and I snapped. My reaction was automatic. This was beyond negotiation.
Bugs live on most people’s faces. They are called face mites, and they are very tiny. They live in hair follicles, mostly. They’re in the class Arachnida, with spiders. Their existence is a disgusting fact of humanity, but it is so common that it must be psychologically digested as a natural part of life in the same way that sex and acne and defecation are. The mites’ existence is a fact of humanity, and so also is our (unintentional, unaware) killing of them during normal human face maintenance. Insect murder is built directly into our humanity. It cannot be wrong.