As a child deeply interested in nature, I studied butterflies and learned dozens of species, taking up birding thanks to the gift of a Peterson Field Guide from a knowing aunt, and spent all the time I could outdoors where the world seemed to offer limitless opportunity to find something new every day.
Yet one warm afternoon I got a bit more nature than I expected. While popping tar bubbles and collecting “Fool’s Gold” bits of pyrite from the gravel on a neighborhood street, I heard a loud buzzing noise over my shoulder and turned to find the biggest wasp I had ever seen descending over my head. It was a cicada killer carrying prey back to its underground nest.
At first, horrified by the size, then fascinated by this massive insect, I watched it land and drag a cicada carcass into a hole in the Pennsylvania clay.
Although I well knew that aspects of nature could be vicious––our own feral cat had proved that to me by dispatching birds and chipmunks multiple times––that encounter with the cicada killer shattered my expectations of how forceful our world could be.
Force of nature
But it didn’t end there. Later in life, I learned that certain kinds of wasps will lay eggs in the bodies of larger caterpillars, whose innards become food for the young of the wasp once they emerge. Parasitoid wasps actually prey on all sorts of other living creatures, with some focusing on aphids, which is why some gardeners welcome the sneaky beasts into their world.
The world is full of predator-prey relationships, many with brutal consequences. Nature usually finds a balance if evolution is left to work its magic. But the human race is known to mess up this equilibrium by introducing entirely new or “invasive” species into an ecosystem. Without any natural predators or systems to keep them in check, these species can run amok, overtaking the natural environment with often devastating force.
We see invasive plant species such as garlic mustard covering woodland floors, shutting out light vital to native wildflowers. Out in the marshes, it is purple loosestrife that propagates like mad. There are also bird species such as European starlings and House sparrows that upon release into North America flourished and flooded the countryside with their aggressive ways.
The latest predatory and somewhat parasitic species to invade the United States is a species of wasp called the Japanese Murder hornet. Specimens of this robust and vicious wasp have been found in the Pacific Northwest, leading some to worry that they might expand across the country and decimate honeybee populations. That problem would only worsen the challenges faced by beekeepers during a period when massive hive die-offs are common, and whose cause is not entirely known.
Whether Murder hornets will make way across the fifty states remains to be seen. One expert quoted in a Business Insider article played down the threat: “It’s not an existential threat to mankind or to the US or to our honeybee industry to have,” Doug Yanega told Business Insider. “Even if they do get established and build a foothold here, the scale of the threat is greatly overblown.”
Another entomologist quoted in the Post-Crescent, a Wisconsin newspaper, noted: “This whole ‘murder hornet’ thing is annoying to entomologists, I think,” Draney said. “It just freaks people out and sort of unnecessarily makes people nervous.”
People are nervous about quite a few threats these days. The invasion of the Coronavirus in America has shut down the economy and cost 30 million people their jobs. The virus is an evolutionary wonder of its own, a “novel” bug that has no predecessor among human beings. That makes it more dangerous to contain because there are no antidotes or antibodies developed to combat the tiny beast. Thus it presents an existential threat to millions of people around the world.
Here in the United States, response to the Coronavirus bug was slow and ponderous. That’s because the main person in charge of pondering the issue is himself a bit of an apex predator and by some reckonings, a parasite of the first and final order.
A real (estate) parasite
Back in the days when Trump was making his way in the New York Real Estate market, he refined his predatory tactics through manipulation of rent controls and valuations, playing up the worth of his properties when it suited his ego and playing them down when it benefited his tax needs.
But his parasitic instincts flared into action when the Real Estate market crash threatened the nation in 2007. As NBC News reported, “Donald Trump counseled Trump University students to take advantage of the housing bubble as an investment opportunity and said, just a year before it burst, that he was “excited” for it to end because of the money he’d make.
“People have been talking about the end of the cycle for 12 years, and I’m excited if it is,’ he told the Globe and Mail in March of 2007. “I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.”
At that time, the housing market was already beginning to decline, and just over a year later the subprime mortgage crisis hit, part of a chain reaction of events that led to the stock market crash of 2008 and cemented the Great Recession.”
Predator and parasite combined
That is Trump the predator and parasite coming together in one devilish creature. The NBC News story originally published in 2016 is all the more revealing now that Trump University was punished for defrauding the students it claimed to educate. Not only was Trump eager to parasitize the economy on which his supposed wealth depends, but he was also sucking money out of people for fake wisdom.
But we’ve long known that Trump knows how to leverage his vicious nature better than most. His television show The Apprentice celebrated his love of dispatching those he considered inferior with the famous phrase, “You’re fired!”
There’s an interesting parallel between the behavior of Donald Trump and the Murder Hornets whose habits include honeybee hive genocide and then carting off the carcasses of its victims to feed to its children. He claims to love chaos and seems happiest when tearing his victims apart. Perhaps the sociopathy of nature really does trickle up the food chain to gain expression in the human race. Supposedly our species is capable of transcending survival of the fittest and its “red in tooth and claw” dynamics. Yet the wars and political battles common to our kind do not suggest we’re all that better than the creatures over whom we claim dominion. That is why so many sociopaths seem to succeed. They appeal to a certain base instinct to dispatch the opposition at any cost. Trump is their Murder Hornet King, the face of domination and revenge.
Political murder hornet
After years of eviscerating victims on The Apprentice, Trump was elected President of the United States and kept playing the same role, only this time the reality show was not semi-scripted. It was live and in-person. So whether the contestant was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who branded Trump a “moron,” or former FBI director James Comey, who did Trump a symbiotic electoral favor by glorifying the trumped-up case against Hillary Clinton and her dreaded emails, Trump went at his mission indiscriminately. Any buzz of disloyalty was sufficient to make Trump go full-on murder hornet.
And when anyone threatens to hold him accountable for his lack of accountability or Tweets designed to sting his perceived opponents to death, Trump claims that it is his natural right to do such things, and nothing anyone says or does can stop him.
The taste of prey
Even after the Mueller team uncovered Russian interference in the 2016 election and turned in multiple indictments people in the President’s close circle, Trump claimed innocence and embarked on a new and horrifically bald-faced attempt to bring foreign influence to bear on American elections. He targeted Joe Biden by coercing the President of Ukraine to conduct an investigation into Hunter Biden. That political murder plot exposed by a whistleblower. There are always guardian bees or ants in nature that are willing to sacrifice themselves to defend the colony.
But Trump loves invasive species, you see. He embraced Wikileaks because it helped him break down the value of laws in the United States, freeing him to flaunt our Constitution and the natural limits of the Executive Office itself.
The invasive coronavirus
This brings us to Trump’s non-response to the invasion of the Coronavirus in America. At some level, Trump likely admired the cunning tactics of the Chinese government that kept the virus secret until it knew what it wanted to do about it. Who knew that a virus living in bats could make the leap over to human beings? Actually, people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and the entire Pandemic Response Team that was told by Trump “You’re fired!” knew quite a bit about the potential problems caused by viruses of that type. Researchers had spent years studying Coronaviruses of many types. Predictions were made that it wasn’t a matter of “if” such a virus would threaten the human population, but “when.”
The fact of the matter is that Trump refused to believe yet desperately feared that his perfect economy could be affected by news of a potential pandemic. The fat caterpillar on which his eyes were trained was getting re-elected in November of 2020. Trump’s goal is to lay his eggs in the American government to the benefit of his progeny; Ivanka, Jared, the Trump boys, and ultimately his nearly invisible son Barron.
Parasite in Chief
Trump is indeed the Parasite In Chief, a predator so cunning and absorbed in his mission that he failed to see that a much smaller parasite was coming up from behind. It laid its eggs as he sat dormant in his brooding complex surrounded by the buzzing sycophants who guard the dark lair from journalists and other such pests. If Trump had his way, he’d fly out and bite off the heads of every reporter he could find.
His popularity with his base is built on such instincts. They view Washington as a brood of termites gnawing away at the foundations of the American household. Trump was elected to be their can of Raid. The more poison he spewed, the more favor he won among those who favor a scorched earth result. Those instincts were verified when Trump claimed at a campaign rally that he could shoot someone and he would still be on top. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said.
That’s a murder hornet philosophy if there ever was one. Trump is indeed a unique and invasive species in American politics. His symbiotic relationship with Russia includes the parasitic ploy of trusting Russian social media trolls to inject seeds of discontent among the aphids he calls his base. Meanwhile, Trump occupies himself by buzzing around with other murder hornets such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Turkish kingpin Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose political career Trump would dearly love to emulate. As described on Wikipedia: “As a long-standing proponent of changing Turkey’s parliamentary system of government into an executive presidency, Erdoğan formed an alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to establish an executive presidency in 2017, where the changes were accepted in a constitutional referendum.”
King of the Hoppers
That’s the type of power and authority Donald Trump truly craves. Yet his predatory brand of narcissism caused him to focus on his own ego during the one moment when that brand of authority could truly have been his to wield. Trump preeningly tried to brush away the threat of a pandemic, insisting it would disappear “like magic” simply because he willed it to be so.
“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.
His power was so great, he repeatedly Tweeted, that nothing bad could happen to the economy.
The Grand Parasite
On that topic, Trump is also a grand parasite. He did nothing to build to the economy that he inherited from eight years of hard work by President Obama, whose leadership helped the country recover from the Bush-led Great Recession.
Even in the midst of that effort, Obama got blowback from his political opponents when he had the nerve to inform business interests that the government was critical in providing the infrastructure needed for their success.
He stated, “You did not build that” in talking about the nation’s investment in that infrastructure. But conservatives took that to literally mean they had not built their businesses. That’s how selfish people can be when they don’t want to owe anything to anyone.
And that’s the reason Trump got elected. The selfish horde of Americans whose spit and prejudicial spit rained down upon Obama could not stand the idea that a Democrat had saved their asses.
Now Trump has quickly squandered everything that Obama did create. The tariffs imposed by Trump gutted agricultural markets. The tax cuts he favored sent the national deficit soaring. Now his feckless and lazy response to the pandemic has cost millions of American jobs and the nation is headed toward yet another Republican-led recession.
It should be noted that every Republican President from Eisenhower to Trump has trashed the economy enough to cause a recession. That’s the real pandemic in America: Republican economic policy. It sickens the nation every time by infecting the country with the attitude that it is the job of United States citizens to feed and support the rich so that jobs and money can trickle down to the everyday worker.
In that respect, we should consider the plot of the movie A Bug’s Life, in which a nasty King Hopper brings his horde to bear on the ant colony. Their goal is to mercilessly clean out the stores of the ants for their own purposes. Yet the ant colony musters enough courage to resist King Hopper thanks to an oddly liberal batch of circus performers whose act serves as both a distraction and an act of resistance. Their colorful display distracts the grasshopper mob long enough for a band of ants to fly a fake bird down from a tree to scare the daylights out of King Hopper and his deplorable clan.
Yet that’s not the end of the story. When King Hopper sees through the ruse and labels it Fake News, he goes off in mad pursuit to kill the Whistleblower ant that led the charge in standing up to the bullying ways of Hopper and his base. But the ant flees until it arrives at the lair of a hungry bird, who grabs Hopper in its bill and feeds the hapless insect to its beckoning young. What a fitting end that would be for the likes of Donald Trump, the President determined to terrorize a nation into doing his bidding.
There’s a moral to every tale in nature. No one is immune to the forces of natural justice in this universe. Not even those who try so desperately to break its laws and bend the truth to serve selfish objectives.