Unseen Passage: Insects

We have been brought up to fear insects. We regard them as unnecessary creatures that do more harm than good. Man continually wages war on them, because they contaminate his food, carry diseases or devour his crops. They sting or bite without provocation; they fly uninvited into our rooms on summer nights or beat against our lighted windows. We live in dread not only of unpleasant insects like spiders or wasps but of quite harmless ones like moths. Reading about them increases our understanding without dispelling our fears. Knowing that the industrious ant lives in a highly organised society does nothing to prevent us from being filled with revulsion when we find hordes of them crawling over a carefully prepared picnic lunch.

No matter how much we like honey or how much we have read about the uncanny sense of direction which bees possess, we have a horror of being stung. Most of our fears are unreasonable but they are difficult to erase. At the same time, however, insects are strangely fascinating, we enjoy reading about them, especially when we find that, like the praying mantis, they lead perfectly horrible lives. We enjoy staring at them, entranced as they go about their business, unaware (we hope) of our presence. Who has not stood in awe at the sight of a spider pouncing on a fly or a column of ants triumphantly bearing home an enormous dead beetle?

Last summer, I spent days in the garden watching thousands of ants crawling up the trunk of my prize of peach tree. The tree has grown against a warm well on a sheltered side of the house. I am especially proud of it, not only because it has survived several severe winters, but because it occasionally produces luscious peaches. During the summer I noticed that the leaves of the tree were beginning to wither. Clusters of tiny insects called aphis were to be found on the underside of the leaves. They were visited by a large colony of ants which obtained a sort of honey from them. I immediately embarked on an experiment which, even though it failed to get rid of the ants, kept me fascinated for twenty-four hours. I bound the base of the tree with sticky tape, making it impossible for the ants to reach the aphis. The tape was so sticky that they did not dare to cross it. For a long time, I watched them scurrying around the base of the tree in bewilderment. I even went out at midnight with a torch and noted with satisfaction (and surprise) that the ants were still swarming around the sticky tape without being able to do anything about it. I got up early next morning hoping to find that the ants had given up in despair. Instead, I saw that they had discovered a new route. They were climbing up the wall of the house and then on to the leaves of the tree. I then realised sadly that I had been completely defeated by their ingenuity. The ants had been quick to find an answer to my thoroughly unscientific methods!

Q. Answer the following questions by choosing the most appropriate options:

  1. Insects are regarded unnecessary creatures because
    1. we are afraid of them.
    2. they devour the crops.
    3. they contaminate food.
    4. they do more harm than good.
  2. Human beings get a feeling of _________ when they watch insects
    1. fear
    2. fascination
    3. revulsion
    4. All of these
  3. Knowing about the insects helps man
    1. to change his attitude towards insects.
    2. to increase his understanding.
    3. to dispel his fears.
    4. to dispel his revulsion.
  4. The attitude of man towards insects as described in the passage is
    1. scientific.
    2. based on facts.
    3. unreasonable.
    4. one of fear and revulsion
  5. Ants were stopped at the base of the tree so that
    1. they could scurry around in bewilderment.
    2. they should not cross the tape.
    3. they should not reach the aphis.
    4. they should remain where they are.
  6. The phrase that has the same meaning as ‘drive away’ is:
    1. to prevent
    2. difficult to erase
    3. stood in awe
    4. to get rid of

Answer

  1. they do more harm than good
  2. All of these
  3. to increase his understanding
  4. one of fear and revulsion
  5. they should not reach the aphis
  6. to get rid of

Q. Answer the following questions.

  1. We regard them as unnecessary _________ that do more harm than good.
  2. We live in a dread not only of unpleasant insects like spiders or wasps but of quite harmless ones like _________ .
  3. Most of our fears are _________ but they are difficult to erase.
  4. The tree has grown against a warm well on a _________ side of the house.
  5. During the summer I noticed that the leaves of the tree were beginning to _________ .
  6. I bound the base of the tree with sticky tape, making it impossible for the ants to reach the _________ .

Answers

  1. creatures
  2. moths
  3. unreasonable
  4. sheltered
  5. wither
  6. aphis

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