Can We Please Start Calling Bugs “She?”

Michelle Johnson
Mar 10, 2017 · 3 min read

What do bugs have to do with feminism? Not much, but maybe a little something…

I was reading a lovely Charlie Harper board book to my baby the other evening, when I had to stop and groan. The page said,

A bumblebee with stripes of yellow– he’s a very busy fellow.

No, he’s not. But she sure is!

Sure, not all insects are female. But when it comes to bees, mosquitoes, ants, and their arachnid friends spiders, almost all of the ones we notice are female. Referring to them as males takes away from all the work that the females of these species do.

So let’s check them out:

Bees:

From Wikipedia on Bees:

A drone is a male bee that is the product of an unfertilized egg. Unlike the female worker bee, drones do not have stingers and do not gather nectar and pollen. A drone’s primary role is to mate with a fertile queen.

So those fuzzy bumblebees you see buzzing through the lavender in the summer? All females. Hey, gals!

Ants:

Worker ants are always female. You may see some winged male drone ants in the summer, but that swarm of creatures marching around the ice cream cone you dropped on the sidewalk? Again, those are females. Enjoy the ice cream, girls.

Bonus Fun Fact: Ant queens can live for up to 30 years!

Mosquitos:

Male mosquitos eat nectar and sugar, females suck your blood so they can lay eggs. So when you slap at a mosquito and say, “He got me!” No, he didn’t, she did.

{More on these disgusting bugs at Wikipedia}

Spiders:

Male and female spiders both spin webs, but that glorious, two-foot orb you see spanning between your hanging plants in late summer? That was spun by the big, fat, female garden spider sitting in the center. She puts forth the effort of spinning a big web so she can catch enough prey for energy to lay eggs. Male garden spiders are much smaller and tend to hang around the fringes.

* * * *

While it’s nearly impossible for the average Jane to tell the sex of many bugs (butterflies, wasps, ladybugs, beetles, roaches, dragonflies) when we see bees, ants, biting mosquitos and large, web-building spiders in nature, they are virtually always female. So let’s call them “she.”

Is talking about the sex of bugs taking feminism too far? Maybe, but also, NO! When we automatically call something a “he,” we assume that the world around us is more male than it actually is. This might be OK if we’re using “he” as a gender-neutral pronoun when we don’t know the sex,* but when it comes to these bugs, we pretty much always know the sex. And it’s not male.

Let’s give these hardworking females credit where credit is due. Pollinate (crawl, bite, spin) on, ladies!

*Also, probably this is not OK.

[Thank you for reading! Please share, like, and comment, especially if you know a little more about bugs than I do.]

Michelle Johnson

Written by

Lapsed martial artist, ace karaokist. Writing and drawing about motherhood, feminism, and fart jokes at http://babyoffcenter.com

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