Most people respond to an infestation of bed bugs with disgust and an immediate desire to eradicate them at all cost, hunting down every last one in an act of insect genocide so that they never ever enter your domain again. Bedbugs do just fine spreading like the plague all on their own. They certainly don’t need any human help to make us all miserable with their antics. Because of the almost universal belief that bedbugs are the source of all evil, you don’t generally hear of people wanting to save them and let them roam free to ruin people’s lives as they please. Well, there is one group of people that do actually attempt to save bedbugs from being harmed by humans. Those people are the Buddhists in Yunnan province of China.
Buddhists are known for their caring nature and desire to help all living things thrive and live peacefully. They are well known for freeing captive creatures, even insects, back into the wild. This practice has become a bit of a controversy in the Yunnan province in southwestern China, as these Buddhists regularly free captive animals in an attempt to cultivate compassion a kindness towards all living creatures. Unfortunately, some of the recent animals they have liberated have ended up having the opposite effect on people, only making them hate these certain animals even more. One of these liberation efforts involved bedbugs in particular, which unsurprisingly, did not make too many people happy that live in the same area. The Buddhist saviors were perfectly happy to free poor captive bedbugs upon an unsuspecting public. It makes me think of some pathetic super hero villain releasing millions of the bugs while yelling, “Go forth, thirsty bedbugs, and feast!,” followed by maniacal laughter.
Most people believe that it is also this very practice is what has introduced a number of invasive species into the Yunnan province’s ecosystem. One of the most destructive has been the apple snail that originally came from South America and was “liberated” in the Yunnan province. It has wreaked havoc not only in the area it was first introduced, but spread to cause destruction across the entire continent of Asia, ruining massive amounts of their rice crops. While the actions of these Buddhists may come from a good place, they are more in line with biological warfare than acts of benevolence.
Do you know of another invasive insect species that has been introduced to a foreign country because of some misguided attempt to save them?