When I was about seven years old, one of the teenage boys on my street asked for my help with an assignment he had to do. He offered to pay me to collect some insects for him and I happily agreed. I was a nature child, I loved playing in the garden and watching bugs. I got a shoebox and filled it with flowers and leaves to create a nice temporary habitat.
I was so excited. I went to a lot of effort to get a wide variety of insects including lizards, lady beetles, ants, caterpillars and maybe a moth or a butterfly. I marched up to my neighbour’s house and proudly presented the box of bugs. He thanked me and I walked away with a shiny two dollar coin.
I never questioned what the insects were for. My neighbour had said something about wanting to observe them and make notes about how they looked and how they behaved. I felt like I had helped make a contribution to science. Later that day, my brother told me that our neighbour had killed all of the bugs I had collected and had pinned them down onto cardboard. I was devastated. I was the sort of kid who would hold funerals for dead bugs I encountered while playing outside and now I was an accessory to murder.
I buried the two dollar coin (no, a money tree never grew), looked up at the sky with a dramatic tear in my eye and apologised to the insects who had lost their lives with my assistance. I also vowed to never help or talk to that neighbour again.