Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15: Ladybugs

I recently had a conversation with a friend about ladybugs. Her house has periodically been swarmed by them this winter. Having lived in a house with frequent ladybug infestations, I could sympathize. As she put it, "One ladybug is cute. You let it crawl on your finger, you say the verse to it: 'Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home...' and it flies away. Cute. But lots of ladybugs? Not so cute."

Her line of reasoning that too much of anything that's cute in singular is not cute in multiples led her to compare ladybugs to puppies: "If you have one puppy, that's great. Cute puppy. But 40 puppies," she says, extending the analogy, "is too much. Especially when they start eating your shoes and peeing and pooping and then dying all over the house." I couldn't properly respond to this reasoning mostly because I was laughing too hard. But also because she's right, at least about the ladybugs. When their little dead bodies start piling up in your sink, or when you try to vacuum up clusters of them and they give off that weird, bad smell, they are no longer cute, harmless little bugs. Even my soft-hearted sister, who used to collect things with ladybugs on them and almost got a ladybug tattoo, agrees.

A true daughter of her mother, my niece models the "cute ladybug" motif.

Turns out the ladybugs that infest our houses in the winter are technically not even ladybugs, so even a ladybug lover can be forgiven for being repelled by a cluster of them. They're actually Asian lady beetles, brought here to help control pests on fruit crops. Thanks a lot, Department of Agriculture. I hope your windows are covered now too. I've also learned that they don't breed in your house, thank god, so the ones that are "hibernating" with you in the winter will also leave you in the spring if you haven't already vacuumed them up. Also, they're particularly drawn to light-colored houses.

Saying the ladybug verse to a cluster of Asian lady beetles unfortunately does not make them all fly away.

One ladybug: cute.
Cluster on the windowsill:
swarming, smelly mass.

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