Friday, August 03, 2007

An Ecosytem of Love

I’ve mentioned my daughter’s love of ladybugs. And for those of you who don’t know, she loves them to death. Literally.

Everyday Leah finds a ladybug and carries it in a fisted hand while she plays (“No, Mom, she’s not dead. She’s resting.”) As a result she was killing approximately one ladybug per day (or more, when our ladybug population was especially unlucky). And for whatever reason, this past week I was struck with the sudden urge to stop the pesticide.

So instead of killing them off, we took them in as pets, putting them in a grass-filled jar with a vented lid. Now, I’ve never been good with pets. I’m a cat person because they’re low-maintenance, snobby pets that don’t require much on my end. Luckily ladybugs run a close second to cats; all they need is a handful of grass, a wet napkin and some moistened raisins in their jar, and voila—you’ve got a ladybug paradise.

I thought so, at least, until I went to replace their moistened toilet for the first time. As soon as I unscrewed the lid about ten ladybugs rushed the lip of the jar; I swear I could hear them all squeal, “Help me, help me.” The ladybugs were not convinced that Leah’s little love jar was a ladybug paradise.

But Leah carried this jar around like other four-year old girls carry around dolls or purses. The first few nights she even slept with it. So I knew that this little ecosystem of love, while in need of modifications, would have to stay.

So I made an executive decision that each day I would release two ladybugs back to the wild. Which is how our pet ladybugs came to be on a work-release program. The Hub asked, “How will you know which to release so you don’t keep a few of them in there forever?” "Well," I said defensively. "I'm not going to tag them." I had to refer him to paragraph three of this post—our ladybugs are LOW-maintenance pets and require no tagging or research journals of any kind. I'm trusting bug karma to sort it out.

14 comments:

Absolutely Bananas said...

I love it! Isn't it amazing how complex everything gets once you have kids?

Mama Zen said...

So that's how you make a ladybug paradise! Seriously, you may have saved the lives of a few ladybugs at my house.

MomOf3 said...

Oh my! This made me smile! It looks like you may have a future scientist on your hands!

Kristi said...

could this paradise work with small children and annoying husbands...tell me if you find a jar big enough.

Candygirlflies said...

You know what really works? Sticking the poor little suckers in the fridge (IN THE CONTAINER, of course). The temperature drop slows down their little systems, and they go "dormant"... Maybe you could pry the jar out of wee Leah's hands after she goes to sleep, and cool those little suckers down to give them a bit of a "break"!!

I only know this because we release bags of ladybugs into our garden to control other pests. I buy them at the landscaping store, and they advise that I keep the bag in the fridge, and then take it out and release them over a three-night period. Once they warm up, they get pretty crawly fast... But they sure keep aphids and other nasties under control!!

My kids LOVE bugs, too... They sell nice "bug huts" at Toys'r'us for not very much money... But I'm not sure I'd want bugs living in one of those IN MY HOUSE...

Hee hee.

rhondabarnes said...

Sounds so much like all my daughters, loved to collect butterflys, ladybugs and rolly polies......what memories! I made lots of bug jars. I will never forget when I went outside on a hot summer night and smelled this aweful stink bug smell...Jennifer my 3 year old had created a hugh fort out of grass clippings and was collecting a pail filled with stink bugs ....lots of stink bugs and she was putting them in her fort. I tossed them down the toilet. What a smell!! My queen of bug collectors Mom

JaniceNW said...

We used the ladybug rhyme...I don't remember all of it but the last line was "Ladybug fly away home!" Ladybugs were for observation only. Because they ate the sphids on my roses. There's an excellent book about the unhappy lady bug you might want to find. It's soooooooooooo funny.

JaniceNW said...

just remembered the name "The Grouchy Lady Bug" I think Eric Carle is the author/illustrator.

shauna said...

Kristi, you made me laugh out loud. I'll be looking for that super-sized jar with a vented lid...

Candygirlflies, I took your advice and gave the ladybugs a break -- they're in the fridge right now. :)

Mom (aka Rhonda), Oh I remember that about Jennifer. Leah likes all those bugs and probably would like stink bugs too except I've never seen one here. I remember stepping on one in our garage--I was very grossed out!

janicenw, I love Eric Carle but haven't read the Grouchy Ladybug--I'll have to check it out.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I'd much rather watch ladybugs poop and braid ropes out of leaves to escape their artificially created ecosystem environment, than ever watch 'Biodome' starring Pauly Shore, again.

Yes, the ladybugs are much smarter and more entertaining too.

Dana said...

They will eat raisins and live for awhile...but unless you have a lot of aphids, they are hard to keep for long.

My son has the same fixation with millipedes.

shauna said...

Dana, we've since tried a new approach. We keep the ladybugs for a few days and then we release them all and start over again. She loves having this little ritual where she tells each of them, "I'll see you again soon," to which I'm sure the ladybugs say, "Not if I can help it."

mamacita chilena said...

hahaha, that's adorable...at least a ladybug ecosystem is less risky than an ant farm!

stefanierj said...

Ohhhh crap, there's bug karma?? Because I worked for Mosquito Control in my hometown for a summer.


*gulp*

Great post.