I have a dilemma on my hands that has extreme moral, social and environmental implications. The social stigma is worse than not recycling. It’s more irresponsible than feeding your child Happy Meals. And, has the potential to bring more bad luck than breaking a mirror while walking under a ladder on Friday the 13th. The dilemma is having an overwhelming urge to squish the cutest, most intelligent, sacred, garden-friendly bug on the planet – the Ladybug.
Snowbirds aren’t the only ones who head south to escape the bitter chill and gray days of winter. At the first signs of cold weather, hoards of Ladybugs invade the south side of our house. The sighting of the first shiny red, polka-dotted Ladybug crawling down the bathroom wall is indicative of their arrival.
Over the years, our house has become somewhat of a Ladybug habitat. If I spotted a Ladybug crawling on the wall I smiled, romanticized about Spring and let her go about her business. My daughter has also adopted several Ladybugs and provided them with special Miss Spider-type accommodations in her bug house.
We love Ladybugs because of their public persona. Gardner’s love them because they eat bugs that harm most flowers and plants. Designers use them as a style icon creating whimsical jewelry, clothing and toys. Writers have penned hundreds of books, songs and poems about them. And, most importantly, people believe Ladybugs bring good luck.
So when did things go wrong? The exact moment was when I took a sip of my morning java and it tasted especially crappy. Upon inspection of my old, plastic Mr. Coffeemaker, it seemed one of our little winter guests decided to go for a swim in the water reservoir. It took everything in me to stop myself from drowning Esther “Ladybug” Williams on the spot (no pun intended).
Ironically, most Ladybugs don’t exactly behave like ladies. Traveling in groups, they often leave behind a trail of crunchy, stinky carcasses. Some broads have the reputation of rolling over and opening their wings “spread eagle,” so to speak. They crawl all over the kitchen countertops and eating areas. And yes, there is such a thing as ladybug turds. Not particularly cute or sanitary. In extreme cases, these little beauties are literally breath-taking to asthma sufferers.
So, I Googled “Is it bad luck to kill a ladybug?”. The overwhelming answer was “yes.” Despite my heightened level of frustration and disgust, I still couldn’t make myself squash the little suckers, throw them out into the frozen tundra or suck them up alive with the vacuum cleaner if such actions caused bad luck. As Stevie Wonder sang, “Superstition is the way…hey, hey…”
Next, I Googled, “Who eats Ladybugs?” in an effort to unearth a more eco-friendly extermination method. The answer was “Nada.” No one. These little gals should be a member of the Justice League of Superheros. Ladybugs have the super power to roll over and fake dead if they sense a predator. They also emit a pungent odor to make them unappetizing so no one eats them. Birds are the closest predator, yet many of them end up spitting out the ladybugs because they stink. One website suggested setting out cloves near entrance areas in the home to prevent them from coming in. Ah, the use of something harmless and natural like a spice. Finally, we’re getting somewhere.
So, after my research, I’ve come up with a plan for closing down the Ladybug Habitat in a humane and not-so-unlucky manner:
- Lure the Ladybugs in the bug house by offering a spa day. Place them in the bird feeder. Find some teeny tiny clothespins to put on the birds’ noses so they can’t taste anything. Put up a sign that says, “Free food. Apply clothespins prior to eating. Tastes like chicken!”
- Take up smoking clove cigarettes in the bathroom to smoke out all the Ladybugs by creating an eco-friendly stink bomb. Giving them a taste of their own medicine, so to speak. Only after they expire (strictly from old age), they will get a porcelain burial at sea.
- As a last resort, throw in the towel, give the Ladybugs my guest room and enjoy all the good luck that will come my way.
I’m feeling pretty lucky now that I have a plan in place. That is, if the hoard of Ladybugs doesn’t get buzzed off the clove cigarettes, carry me out to the backyard and feed me to the birds. On second thought, I’d better get the guest sheets ready.