Bugs On Trial, Sentenced to be Executed…for Real

If you have an interest in farming or gardening of any kind, then you already understand painfully well how difficult working the earth can be with pests around. Of course, you also might want to avoid using artificial pesticides, which means finding more natural ways to keep your crops from getting gobbled up by these hungry insects. Naturally, the people back in medieval times also wanted to keep insects away from their crops, and sometimes this desire took some strange turns. Namely, there were more than a few instances where they had bugs on trial and even sentenced to execution.

The Suffolk Bug Trials

Known commonly as the May bug or doodlebug, the cockchafer was almost pushed to extinction thanks to post-industrial pesticides. Fortunately for them, once regulations were put in place, these pesky little critters started to make a comeback. Of course, for many who were present in the court of Avignon in 1320, it probably would have been better off if these cockchafers were just wiped out completely. What does the 1320 court have to do with this common agricultural pest? Well, they just happened to put these bugs on trial in that year.

Specifically, the outcome of this trial was that the cockchafers had three days to withdraw from the crops they were eating to designated areas. When they failed to comply with the demand, these insects were individually collected and killed. This court was not messing around.

Putting Bugs on Trial, Not As Unique As You Might Think

While it might seem a bit of a stretch, this action of putting bugs on trial may not be as strange as you might imagine. Well…it is certainly strange, but it is not all that uncommon to put animals on trial. In fact, the earliest known trial of an animal is the execution of a pig, which took place back in 1266. This apparently started a trend, because after this trial there were a host of animals put on trial, some even burned at the stake for being evil spirits or committing other heinous offenses. In an unconfirmed recount of history, Johannis Gross indicated in his 1624 that a rooster was even once put on trial (in 1474) for laying an egg, which was thought to be spawned by Satan.

More Effective Pest Control Methods

Naturally, there are some more effective pest control methods out there you might want to consider today before you hold your own trial for the pests on your land. For starters, you might consider using a little bit of Dawn dish detergent with water. Go ahead and spray this over the leaves of your vegetables to scare away common predators like aphids. Alternatively, certain flowers are known to attract helpful insects to the garden, which in turn eat those harmful ones. In effect, you create an ecosystem that is conducive to growing the plants you are after. If you simply don’t care about avoiding regular pesticides, you can always shop for those at your local garden center as well.

Regardless of how you approach your pest control efforts today, it is certainly interesting to look back at the strained attempts made by these people to avoid the pests of their time. Then again, when you listen to certain people today, does it seem like humanity has really grown much in the last millennium?


Do you know of other cases where they put bugs on trial? Are there more recent examples that might make you question humanity? Do you believe we should start holding bug trials again? Let us know in the comments below!




Joseph Macolino
Joseph Macolino
When Joseph is not writing for his Evorath fantasy series, he tries to spend time honing his physical prowess to one day become the Punisher. Most of the time, he just ends up perfecting the art of procrastination by watching Netflix, reading other good fantasy books, or playing some mindless game. Follow him at Evorath