November 16, 2011

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away - Home??

Ladybugs are what's called "beneficial insects".  To us farmers, anyway.  They're carnivores - they eat nasty, crop-destroying bugs called "aphids", among others.  (I think aphids are cute - they're bright springtime green, and really funny-looking, but...)  The more ladybugs around, the safer our crops will be.

See, we are going to be "all-natural".  In more ways than one, but that's another story.

That means organic fertilizers and no petrochemical pesticides.  We think we're going to have to plant double the amount of things others do, so the bugs can have some.  And the deer.  And the raccoons, possums, etc. Even though we're trying to figure out how to keep some special ducks that eat bugs but not the crop - we have HUGE red-tailed hawks here, plenty big enough to carry off a duck.  And duck poo is excellent fertilizer for the plants.

There are lots of critters around here that are good for our crops.  This last summer we were overloaded with toads.  You know, the cute brown ones with black spots?  They're good bug-eaters too.  They were everywhere, and ranged in size from your thumb to your hand.  But don't step on one! And by the way, toads aren't slimy like frogs are.

Anyway, ladybugs are apparently long-lived.  They hibernate in the winter.  In our bedroom. I have no idea how they're getting into the house.

This is only the beginning.  Later there will be hundreds of them, in a huge mass in that corner.

And here's another good sign:  they're starting to form a mass in our other bedroom (my office), too!

Before you say Ewwww! let me say that we'll put up with a lot in order to make a go at farming.  Although there's a very slight musky odor in the bedroom during their sleep, they don't bother us. Except the other night we found one in the bed, literally between the sheets. That one got totally lost!

They don't fall on us, or fly around, or crawl around except when they're getting ready to go to sleep.  It's kinda fun to lay in bed, watching them walk aimlessly around the ceiling.  They look a little like a Pac-Man game - they'll move along, then take a sharp 90 degree turn and head off in that direction. We counted 15 of them the other night.

Eventually they'll find the mass in the corner and nod off.  One day in springtime we'll wake up and they'll all be gone.  Every single one.

Isn't nature fascinating?

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