} Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home

Paul noticed a ladybird flying about the kitchen today. A sign of spring? Sara intently leaned over it to count its spots. “It’s 19 years old”, she said. “Does it have 19 spots?” I asked. You guessed it. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that its spots didn’t have anything to do with its age.  Paul threatened to squish the bug, but Sara and I wouldn’t allow it. I told Sara to take it into the living room and put it in the front window. A few moments later, she jumped up screaming, flailing her arms about. The ladybird had landed on her! So much for the superstition that ladybirds landing on your arm is good luck!

The ladybird took flight, flying into the dining room, to balance above us, upside down on the ceiling.  Until Sara came into the dining room, where Paul was eating his dinner. Paul (who was eating a sandwich) took a big old bite, just as Sara reached out to swat the ladybird away.  “Dad the ladybird’s on your….”

“Was that what that crunch was??”

In the spring our bay windows are littered with ladybirds. We know this is probably a sign of something bad, but we live with them. They’re carnivorous, so I figure leaving them around will help clean up any mites or aphids that might be on the houseplants.

Of all the insects/critters/crawlers in this neck of the woods, ladybirds are the least of my worries.  Black widows and dock spiders freak me out the worst. And the snakes, I’ll never get used to the snakes.

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17 Comments

  1. willowbatel said,

    February 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I would love ladybugs in my room. I have so many mites and mealy bugs that if I don’t leave the trap in here for a few days they take over my room. They have infested everything.
    Black widows? No. nope. No no no no no. huh uh. Not happening. They’d be squashed on sight. I don’t have anything against spiders (so long as they don’t touch me) but black widows are too nasty to be around. Just looking at them is enough to send people running.
    The snakes I wouldn’t mind so much. They’ll keep the mice population down.

    • February 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm

      Ladybirds are the BOMB. You should see if you can purchase a few from a plant nursery around you. I buy them by the bag to throw in the vegetable garden. They’ll definitely take care of the mites and mealy bugs. Of course, then your room will be infested with ladybirds, but at least they’re prettier to look at! The snakes bug me because they’re so quick….same with frogs…hehehe. I jolt everytime I reach for a weed and have a frog jump out at me. And we have rattlesnakes, which are scary. As is the treatment you need if you get bit by one. The sound of a rattler is enough to freeze you in your tracks!
      We have so many different spiders up here, widows are scary but they aren’t the scariest, dock spiders are absolutely HIDEOUS. And then there’s the funnel spider….eeeeeck. Okaaaay, now that I have a bad case of the heebie-jeebies….

      • willowbatel said,

        February 18, 2010 at 2:42 am

        Hahaha, I got the heebie-jeebies too. Bleh, poisonous creatures are not okay. I see the purpose of the venom, but I still don’t like it lol. Hahaha, if I saw one on the ground I’d be up in a tree. Snakes move super quick when they strike but I’d still be half way down the block before that thing even knew what happened. Biting snakes are NOT okay. Lol.
        The newest addition to my room is a Pitcher plant; hopefully it would help keep the population reasonable in my room. *wink* *wink* It’s my favorite.

  2. gigisanchez said,

    February 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I’m bummed it got squashed. But ladybird… you mean ladybug? …I LOVE spiders. I’ve never been near a black widow but I know a spider expert that says it’s no big deal and that people make something out of nothing. I interviewed him once for a story on spiders. He says he’s been biten a thousand times and it’s nothing, that people just have a mental fear. I have little spiders that get in the house all the time and I let them hang out. I think I’m the only person in the world that likes them, except for Wilbur. Charlotte is one of my favorite characters. 🙂

    • February 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      It didn’t just get squashed hunny, it got EATEN. 😉
      And I mean ladybird!
      I don’t know what type of widows bit your friend, but we have mactans up here, and they’re definitely venomous and harmful to humans. They generally don’t cause death, of course, but one does suffer! Either way, I don’t want’em in the house! You can have all the spiders you want, I think they’re disgusting little creatures. There’s nothing worse then walking through a web spread across the garage door, it’s impossible to escape….hehehe.

  3. gigisanchez said,

    February 17, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I’ll be hunny and you be bunny… ha!

    I got a link (below). It says ladybird but it also says they’re called ladybugs in North America. Is this what you’re talking about? We call these ladybugs in the US. You eat them??? They’re tiny. You must be talking about something else.

    This is a ladybug in the US:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinellidae

    I had a garden snake when I was a kid. I can’t say I’d want to be near a rattler, though. I like your bear and deer pics from the other post. Aren’t you scared to go for a stroll and run into a hungry bear? I hiked in Alaska in the middle of nowhere once when they were coming out of hibernation (really crazy thing to do). Me and this guy hiked for a few days with a compass and a tent and it was 20 below at night. OOh, that was nuts.

    • February 18, 2010 at 8:15 am

      The ladybird in question landed on Paul’s sandwich, just as he was taking a bite, Sara tried to swat it away, but didn’t make it in time, and down the gullet it went. We don’t normally eat ladybirds, no.
      And ladybug and ladybird are the same thing. 🙂 We just call them ladybirds.
      The bears can get a little testy in very early spring, but they are more scared of humans then humans are of bears. Drew came out of the studio last summer and came face to face with a bear at the top of the stairs. He screamed, but the bear ran faster then he did. We come across them all the time, usually singing Jingle Bells at the top of your lungs will make them go in the other direction. The only time we have to be really carefully is when we’re in the blueberry patch or the blackberry bramble (which is right off the deck) It is a little daunting however, when you’re out for a stroll and you come across a giant bear paw print in the mud. It makes you stop and take a look around. I’ll post a few more wildlife pics for you.

      My oldest daughter has a pet snake. His name is Maverick and he’s a king snake, he’s very cool looking, I’ll try to put a pic up of him too. He’s lazy though and doesn’t move too quick.

  4. gigisanchez said,

    February 17, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    The spider expert I interviewed years ago -his name is Rod Crawford. I’m putting a link of his below. I distinctly remember spending hours talking to him before we ever even got to the reason I was calling. I had all these ideas about spiders that he told me was wrong.

    I had written my story to say that spiders were scary, it was Halloween time, and he told me he was so tired of hearing the same bs, that people really need to learn so they don’t get scared, that kids are taught to fear spiders for no reason. After talking to him for several days and reading some of his research, I botched my story and rewrote it. He taught me that a world without a healthy spider population would mean a world without any humans.

    Spiders eat insects and insects eat food. Without a healthy population, the insect population would get so out of control that food crops would be gone and people would starve and the entire human race would die off!

    Anyway, on the link below, go to “myths on dangerous spiders.”

    http://www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/spidermyth/index.html

    • February 18, 2010 at 8:32 am

      The world’s population of spiders are free to roam around outdoors, but when I see a dock spider skittering across the wall I do a little squealy-girly-dance ( and I’m not all that girly at all) There was a woman bit by a mactans last summer who spent the day paralyzed (widow venom attacks the nervous system) I’m not sure whatever happened to her, but I know she survived.
      Anti-venom meds for a rattlesnake bite run about $20,000(thank heavens for healthcare) I don’t know what it is for spider bites.
      I realize spiders are a very important link in the ecosystem, but I still don’t like to see them!
      The link was excellent, especially the list of “Just plain weird stories”.

  5. gigisanchez said,

    February 18, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I understand the fear. When I was a kid, we didn’t really have spiders in our house but we did have rats and roaches. I grew up in very clean house but we lived in a hot, tropical place, and it was impossible to keep them out. My mother would FREAK when she saw a rat and when she saw a roach, she was on a mission to kill. I was never scared of them but the roaches gave me a chill up my spine.

    The only reason I’m writing back about the stories is to spread happy vibes, no-fear vibes. I hope it gets taken that way. I don’t mean to put anyone’s thoughts down. I used to substitute teach and the kids in class would freak out if they saw a spider. I would get the spider, let her crawl up my arm, into my hair, out the other side, and then put her outside on a tree. They were in awe and thought I was either from the devil or some type of magician. It happened a few times. But I did it because kids are taught to be scared and they don’t need to be. I would let one of those macans crawl up my arm if Rod says they couldn’t hurt me. I’ve been on a tiny mission since I’ve met him to spread his word around.

    ps: I’m going to write to my friend Rod about the mactans in Canada and see what he says. I’ll let you know what he says.

    Can you get a tupperware container to catch them when they’re inside and then a paper on the other end, and then let them out? They’re eating the insects that DO bite. 🙂

    I like how you tried to save the ladybird. Now I get it…she landed on his sandwich. Ouch. Not a good place to land. I guess she was hungry.

    • February 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

      (No worries! Your stories are being taken exactly as you mean!)
      See, now I feel differently about the rats, I love rats, have had many as pets over the years (don’t know if I’d like them roaming free about the house, but mice have never really bothered me) I’m pretty sure that roaches are a sign of cleanliness. They’re like headlice, they prefer a clean environment.
      If I’m by myself, I usually panic and throw my slipper at the spiders, but if there’s someone else around, they get put outside alive. I guess they’re just taking their chances!
      Mention the woman’s paralysis, when you’re talking to Rod, I’d be interested to know what he thinks.

  6. gigisanchez said,

    February 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I’d be willing to bet that he’s going to say the paralysis is bs. In fact, I’m sure he will. But I’ll let you know. If you look at the part of his site that talks about spiders being dangerous, he pretty much says they aren’t. But I’ll ask…

    I understand why you wouldn’t want them in your house. I don’t think I’d want a big one in my house but the little ones, the ones that are 1 inch or smaller, they don’t bother me. No slipper swatting!! 🙂 They’re harmless.

    ps: the worm bin on the other thread… GREAT idea. I have a tiny worm bin that I keep inside the house. Originally bought them to make a compost for my garden but it gets so cold in the winter, I didn’t want them to freeze, plus I didn’t want to lose them. Now they live in a big bucket and they eat bananas all the time. They LOVE bananas. I think they just wiggle right in. They get veggies, too. And they’ve made a lot of worm babies. All I did was get some good soil, fill it 3/4 of the way, put bananas on the top… presto. They eat so much that the soil keeps moving down so I have to keep filling it.

    • February 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      I’m all about living for free, and since I garden so much, good compost can get expensive, hence the worm bin idea. But, I need a BIG bin to fulfill my compost needs. Plus, I’ve got a big family, which makes for a lot of kitchen scraps. Most of it goes out to the chickens right now, but I’m sure even they would prefer more worms over the winter. I’m determined to make it work!
      I promise, no more slipper throwing ( I usually miss anyways)

  7. gigisanchez said,

    February 19, 2010 at 4:01 am

    ooh, I’m up late. Here’s the response from Rod, the arachnologist. I E-mailed him back to clarify whether either of these species could paralyze someone and what the worse they can do to you is.

    He wrote:

    There are black widows in eastern
    Canada but they do not get very far north of the U.S. border. Technically they would be L. variolus rather than L. mactans (the southern black widow, rare north of Maryland)
    but that doesn’t make too much difference as regards the venom. However, in all N. American cities outside of southern Calif., the false black widows, genus Steatoda, are much more common than the real ones, and they are harmless. Anyone actually bitten by a spider should always save the spider for ID by an arachnologist. Don’t give it to the
    doctor! They don’t know beans about spider ID. And anyone who didn’t see any spider should *never* assume they were bitten by one – because the non-spider conditions mistaken for spider bite can be really serious!
    My experience with grade-schoolers has been that in 1st and 2nd grades most of the kids haven’t picked up the virulent spider fears yet, but the older they are the worse they get.”

  8. gigisanchez said,

    February 19, 2010 at 4:01 am

    that last sentence referred to me telling him how I was with the kids

  9. gigisanchez said,

    February 20, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I have to print a retraction… My Spider Man friend says something a little different than what I thought he would.

    He says he’s never heard of paralysis from a black widow bite but that he doesn’t know enough about the subject to totally rule it out. He says that if the bitten person didn’t SEE the spider (or spider biting) then another cause for the medical condition is much more likely. He said that, prior to modern medical treatments, there was a death rate from black widow bites that was under 5% and that if someone didn’t seek medical attention, that -theoretically- it was possible they could die, but that no such case has happened in North America since the 1960’s. He said that it’s a neurotoxin (damages nerve tissue) and that the first symptom is typically abdominal cramps but other than that, he can’t talk about detailed symptoms because it’s not really his field.

    What he says on his site is:
    The doctors can’t diagnose spider bites and are prejudice against spiders and don’t know about them, so people see doctors and they get told they were bitten by a spider they never saw and then it makes news headlines and scares a lot of people. The media never follows up on the story and never prints a retraction in the cases where something else was discovered.

  10. March 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

    […] with a lesson in fascination and intrigue from a 20 month old child, whose first encounter with a ladybird was as gentle as the morning breeze, and you’ve got yourself the makings of an awakening. […]


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