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Mother Nature sends us a hungry, crawling helper

There's so much bad news from Mother Nature these days – floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, the mysterious of bees – that we begin to wonder if we've done something to offend the dear lady.

The answer is, of course we have – we've leveled forests, polluted air and water, and acted as though nature would yield to human wishes. As far as we can determine, Mother Nature doesn't give more of a hoot for humans than for the ferruginous (it means reddish) pygmy owl, a tiny, lizard-eating predator that for a time brought a halt to development in Arizona. In fact, if we humans manage to despoil the planet so thoroughly that we have no future here, Mother Nature will contentedly nurture cockroaches and molds.

We bring all this up because of reports that Mother Nature apparently has done us a favor by introducing a flying cockroach from Asia into the United States.

The creature was first noticed in Florida in 1986 and since then has migrated up the East Coast. What's good about the little critters is that they feast on the eggs of bollworms and beet armyworms, which combined threaten cotton, cabbage, soybean, corn and tomato crops. This is one Nature vs. Nature conflict that benefits humans.

Of course the trouble with Mother Nature is that you never know what unanticipated effects are up her sleeve. Remember, there was a time when we thought kudzu was just the thing for erosion control. Who knows, when it's too late to do anything we may find that these crawly creatures have a taste for barbecue, too.

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