Why don’t Pests Eat Weeds?

Why do pests never eat Bindweed?

There’s a lovely crop of bindweed at the bottom of the garden. It would seem the previous occupants thought it was a lovely white flower, and encouraged it. Sure, it’s a pretty enough thing, an attractive climbing flower.. But it’s a vicious strangler of other plants.

Obviously, using the word “vicious” in this instance is an unnecessary anthropomorphism. Bindweed isn’t vicious, any more than it knows it’s pretty. It’s just an effective growing machine that uses its lovely white flower to lure in the unwary gardener – a highly effective evolutionary adaptation in these days when people can’t tell coltsfoot from dandelions..

This excursion into the world of the pathetic fallacy was really inspired, however, by the Telegraph article about the chough that fostered another bird’s chicks. The Telegraph article referred to the bird having a “pang of guilt” after killing the chicks’ father. If choughs really do have guilty feelings, then logically we need to consider extending our laws to cover the crow family, and putting the bird on trial for murder. As clearly if it can feel guilty it must be a morally responsible – or, in this case, irresponsible – .being. But it’s not. For whatever reason, some instinct drove this chough to look after the orphans. In evolutionary terms, maybe not such a bad thing, as the chicks will be genetically similar to the murderous stepfather.

But I look at the bindweed, growing away there in its offensive and yet innocent way, and hate it. Then I look at the woolly aphids dangling off the apple trees, where the previous owners no doubt thought they’d go for the organic option of simply having no fruit, and think – why can’t woolly aphids eat bindweed? Surely there is no more obvious indicator of the fallen nature of our creation than that woolly aphids leave bindweed alone, and prefer eating apple trees? I’m just surprised it wasn’t mentioned in Genesis 3. Again, I don’t blame the aphids – I just hate them.

Of this, then, I am sure. In the New Jerusalem, aphids will eat bindweed and the good members of the crow family will go on to eternal life.


One thought on “Why don’t Pests Eat Weeds?

  1. The scary thing about bindweed (and I’m sure this is true even though I don’t have a shred of evidence) – there’s only one. It’s all the same plant!

    Another fallacy is its Latin name is not Convolvulus. Convolvulous (despite being impossible to spell) is a delightful smaller version of bindweed with pink flowers. The Latin for bindweed is Calysthegia (much easier to spell, possibly), which you will find does better service than Convolvoleous as a swear word for use when failing to pull it up (it breaks off).


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