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28 February 2006 — Ladybugs II: Electric Boogaloo (12)

It's difficult to believe that our home has been infested with ladybugs for four months now. (Actually, it's only the media room that's infested; they don't go into the rest of the house.) Kris and I still debate their origin — eggs in the houseplants? or in through the window? — but we don't debate that they're fun to have around.

When I'm not mistaking them for soy nuts, or drinking the ones who crawl into my water bottle, they're actually fairly entertaining. Even the cats think so. They're just a little messy. There are ladybug carcasses all over the floor. On a trip to the bathroom in my stocking feet last night, I felt the tell-tale crunch of another ladybug going to the great garden in the sky.

As we were getting ready for bed we counted the swarm on the light fixture. "My personal best is twenty-five," Kris told me. We counted twenty-one (though the eight on the cord itself was some sort of record). "You should take a picture," she said, and since my camera was close at hand (eBay auctions, you know), I did. It was rather difficult because a) ladybugs are small, and in order to appreciate their vast number, it's better to see them in person; (b) it's difficult to produce a good photo shooting into a light source; and (c) my shots were hand-held. Still, here is a gallery of ladybugs:

The first shot is the broad overview of ladybugness.

a wide shot of the entire light fixture, ladybugs and all

Doesn't look like much, does it? Click on the photo. It'll open a full-size version in a new window. Scroll around. Count the ladybugs. Imagine them all flitting about, bonking into the light, making a more-or-less constant click-click noise. Imagine a wayward ladybug flitting by one of the cats: cat-snack. (And remember: there are even more ladybugs on the other side of these light fixtures; you're only seeing a portion of them.)

Most of the ladybugs are various shades of red with black spots. A small percentage, however, are black with red spots. They're inverse ladybugs. Are they bossbugs? Are they pariahs in ladybug culture? One was hanging out on the cord last night with some regular ladybugs:

a photo of several ladybugs on the cord, including a mysterious black ladybug

It's possible that the ladybugs are drawn to the light fixture for warmth. I like to believe that they revere it as some sort of god, that they are drawn to this spot by some sort of holy ladybug dogma, are bound to pay homage to the god of light. And then get eaten by a cat. Or by me. Yech!

ladybugs worshiping at the altar of light

In other news, my second batch of eBay auctions ended Sunday. It wasn't nearly as large as the first, but a couple of the items yielded a nice profit. (A couple of the items went dirt-cheap, too, which makes me sad.)

What's odd about all this is that for some reason I find myself unable or unwilling to spend the money I'm earning. Yes, I'm continuing my normal monthly comic book purchases, and going out to eat now and then, but usually a large influx of money like this would lead me to some sort of frivolous expense: a new Mac! a new camera lens! a zillion comics! It's true that I have bid on a couple of eBay auctions (including this lot that I really, really wanted — my max bid was $318), but I haven't won anything; I'm unwilling to bid wantonly. What the hell is wrong with me!

On this day at foldedspace.org

2007Three Out of Four Cats Agree...   In which the cats love to sit in Kris' lap.

2004Founding Brothers   In which the book Founding Brothers gives me some insight into the nature of our two-party political system.

2002Meteorological Spring   In which meteorological spring has arrived. In which I share a list of favorite a capella songs.


Comments
On 28 February 2006 (11:25 AM), Tiffany said:

The only thing wrong with you is your ladybug eating.


On 28 February 2006 (02:31 PM), Lynn said:

When I lived on a mint farm in St Paul (Oregon, that is) we were infested with Ladybugs every spring. I would sweep them out by the dustpan load every day. It got so bad that the sight of a ladybug almost makes feel nauseated.

Occasionally, I'll see a decorative piece of pottery with ladybugs painted all over it and I must turn away quickly.


On 28 February 2006 (03:08 PM), FredKiesche said:

You sure they are ladybugs? There's another critter that we keep getting in the fall, after the first cold snap. They have eggs in the basement, etc., and hatch when the heat comes on. If you don't take care of them the first time around, they keep coming back! Maybe take a few to your local university ag coop folks to identify.


On 28 February 2006 (04:27 PM), Lisa said:

The inverse ones are gentleman bugs.

Our bedroom at the farm is infested with boxelder bugs. Not nearly as charming and extraordinarily annoying when they crawl on your face while you're sleeping. Fortunately, they're not malicious in anyway, just slow and stupid.


On 01 March 2006 (07:43 AM), Amy Jo said:

Responding to flotch. Yes, let's make a date for bread and chocolate. I suspect we might be able to convince our spouses to go with. Ken also makes lovely pastries . . .


On 01 March 2006 (10:17 AM), ranaaurora said:

These ladybugs are the introduced species Harmonia axyridis. They are grown and released as a biocontrol for aphids and adelgids but have become naturalized across the country. All the colors types are polymorphs of the same species. The dark polymorphs ae more common in asia. You can do a google image search for the species name.

Here's a good discussion of their occurrence in the Willamette Valley.

http://www.efn.org/~ipmpa/harmonia.html

Biologically Harmonia axyridis is unusual. Most native Western ladybugs spend winter months in the foothills of the Cascade, Coast Range or Sierra Nevada mountains. In the spring they leave their winter homes to return to the valley to lay the eggs that begin the next generation. Many generations may be produced each spring and summer, but the final adults always return to the foothills. However, Harmonia is different. Our new ladybug prefers to remain in the valley all winter, often congregating in large numbers in attics, barns, sheds, anywhere that's dry and relatively dark. On warm, late-winter days the beetle may become active and fly to windows.

We believe that Harmonia has established itself in the valley and has been seen in areas west of the mountains in the Northwest, perhaps venturing as far south as Medford. It has not yet been reported east of the Cascades. It was originally released in the West in Washington State.

Apparently they have been known to bite people and are difficult to separate from some crops during processing. They may taint the flavor of wine and you may find some in canned and frozen fruits. They are also causing the decline of some native ladybug species through competition and predation.

More infor here:

http://www.insectscience.org/3.32/


On 01 March 2006 (10:24 AM), ranaaurora said:

FYI, there supposed to be a bit more bitter than soy nuts.


On 01 March 2006 (10:27 PM), Kristin said:

Such a nice change from ants, no? Remember those of us still in the trenches . . .


On 31 October 2007 (08:27 AM), Kitty said:

Hi there! I just stumbled upon your blog when I googled "Inverse Ladybugs" after failing getting any results for the UK term "Ladybirds" - anyway, looks like I currently have similar visitors in the form of Inverse Ladybugs, they're cute, but I hate when they fly! They go from graceful and sweet little creatures to somewhat bewildered and maladroit flying halfwits!

Anyway, I enjoyed reading a few pages of your blog, might check back again one day :) Take care :)


On 31 October 2007 (08:29 AM), Kitty said:

Hi there! I just stumbled upon your blog when I googled "Inverse Ladybugs" after failing getting any results for the UK term "Ladybirds" - anyway, looks like I currently have similar visitors in the form of Inverse Ladybugs, they're cute, but I hate when they fly! They go from graceful and sweet little creatures to somewhat bewildered and maladroit flying halfwits!

Anyway, I enjoyed reading a few pages of your blog, might check back again one day :) Take care :)


On 31 October 2007 (08:37 AM), Kitty said:

oops, I posted twice - sorry! Firefox crashed...


On 06 November 2007 (07:12 AM), Sarah Love Park said:

Hi there,

Last night I had a dream of 'the inverse ladybug' as in your photo above, I googled and found your page. Can you believe I had a dream of 'a gentleman ladybug' when I have never even imagined of one?
* * *
I had a baby ladybug staying with me in my room from
Last August till Octber for a little over 2 months. He grew up and was finally ready to fly out the window. So he flew out... You can see him here at http://confidentcouture.com/showroom/ladybug/DSCF3969_001

Enjoy~

Sarah