Lady Bug, Lady Bug,                             

Fly away home.                                                                    

Your house is on fire,

And your children are alone.

Ladybug, the Essay, by KD McCall  circa 1998 - BRE (Before Real Estate) - When I had time for such things

Today, is the day Martha Stewart's White Sale gets underway at K Mart in Spindale. Eckerd's Drug Store is hosting "Bargain Day" for cleaning supplies. If I needed three bottles of Pinesol, for one money, I could buy them there. It's February 28, the last day of the month and a landmark day for me personally. Today, is the day I declare war on lady bugs. It's a landmark day for the following reason... I possess a childlike fondness for lady bugs. They're safe to hold, and oh, so exciting in a child's palm, an exercise in limited childhood freedom. My playmates and I used to catch, hold, and name them, all by ourselves. We thought they lived just below the ground. In an attempt to catch them sleeping we poked straws into holes in the ground and stirred while we chanted the lady bug poem. "Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home..." We'd gather around and wait expectantly, but, to tell the truth, I never saw a lady bug come out of a hole in the ground. The only thing I ever drew from a hole in the ground with a straw was a rollie-pollie. A Tumble Bug, one of those little gray, multi-legged, armor-clad critters that roll up in a ball. And they don't fly, without assistance.... But that's another story.These days, when I find lady bugs in the garden, I'm elated. Natural predators, I'm told. They seem harmless enough. If they eat an aphid now and then, who am I to question why? Go girls!When they first began to show up in the house several weeks ago, I thought, "How interesting." They collected in little groups, here and there, most often on a cloth lamp shade in the den when the light was on. I'd touch them with my finger and bam - -off they would drop - - a not uncommon defense mechanism. (That they buzz like a wasp in attack mode, well, that's another story....) As they fell off the lampshade I'd catch them in my free hand, carry them to the back door, and turn them out.

Our family cats, natural born stalkers, are not as kind as I. Instead of putting them out, to face the perils of winter, they carry them to the kitchen for a spirited impromptu hockey-like game on the shiny vinyl floor. The little orange and black pucks glide with tremendous speed until a final fateful swoosh sends them careening into the dust under the refrigerator. Score one for the home team.

Having to catch the puck, before the game can commence, is a concept that can be costly to a homeowner. Cats both climb and jump, and there are numerous things of fragile beauty in most households. Add to that, my insurance company is kind of funny. I can hear my agent now....

"Your cat leapt off the back of the couch onto a wall-mounted shelf dislodging a wooden duck decoy, and it fell on the stereo before it bounced.... Did you say bounced or pounced? What bounced or pounced? The cat or the duck?"

But that's another story.Now they've begun to appear as little dark blots in the light shades, the ceiling fixtures, including the florescent tube light in my office. How they get under the fitted plastic cover in the office is a mystery. I can scarcely get to the bulb myself and I have a screwdriver and two thumbs.Little hordes of them have collected, on the kitchen counter near the sink, in my bedroom window sill, and add poke-a dots to every lamp in the house. They're even - is nothing sacred - in the bathroom.I'm not putting them out anymore. They just come back. Like Fred Flintstone's cat, out the door, through the window, they beat me back to the den. I've had it with them. They have got to go.The ultimate weapon? Dum, dum, dum...drum roll, please.An antique Electrolux, Silverado, a deadly weapon in the war on Lady Bugs. I will vacuum them up, taking a sort of haphazard body count. I'll call it a casualty estimate. Sometimes there might be too many to count, and if I occasionally exaggerated the total, who would that hurt? Adding a few to the grand tally seems harmless enough.I still don't know much about them. I don't know where they come from, where they go, what they're eating, where they sleep, or even, if they sleep. Whatever the reason, they appear to be multiplying, doing well, thriving here. My lack of knowledge on the subject doesn't keep me up nights. I have better things to do. I'm actually quite interested in finding out how many lady bugs will fit into an antique Electrolux.

And that's something to think about.

Original Essay, Karen Day McCall - February 28, 1998

K'song - Ladybug

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