Thursday, June 2, 2016

Like A Plague of Locusts

The ladybugs are here!!

How, you might be wondering, are 500 ladybugs transported to the wilds of Oklahoma?

In a surprisingly small package that was shipped overnight and filled with helpful instructions like "release over several days” and “store in the refrigerator until released.” They also suggested that, to keep the ladybugs from immediately flying away, one should spray them with a mixture of white soda and water. Apparently, this temporarily “glues” their wings shut.

Which just seems cruel.

Of course, in retrospect, stuffing 500 ladybugs in a little sack inside a box and shipping them across the country seems a little cruel too but that’s a whole other discussion.

In any case, the instructions also suggested that releasing them at night would help keep them in the yard and that seemed like the best plan, except for one slight problem: Round Three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A fact that game up when, just before dusk, I got out the bag o' bugs and shook them enticingly in Opie’s face. “You’re going to help me, aren't you?” I asked.

Opie hemmed and hawed and finally hinted that ladybug disbursement seemed like a 1 person job. 
"The Blues are playing to tonight." He added.

“But I need you! One person has to stick a hand down and separate the lily stalks as close to the ground as possible while the other person dumps the ladybugs out. And," I went on before he could protest, "no, I can't push the lilies with one hand and dump the ladybugs with the other. Because this has been a very snaky spring and what if there's a snake in there and I TOUCH IT? We'd have to move."

And then we started playing this really fun game in which we both just keep repeating the same sentence, stressing a different word each time, like the only reason we can't come to a consensus is poor emphasis.

"The BLUES are playing tonight."

"We'd have to MOVE."

"The Blues are playing TONIGHT."

"We'd HAVE to move."

Eventually, though, we ran out of words and I quickly said "And it's not going to take that long."

I might also have mentioned that the Blues’ playoff performance has been a little frustrating and when Opie starts yelling at the television, our slightly neurotic Bubba decides it's the scariest thing that has ever happened. At which point, he feels the only reasonable course of action is flinging his big old self onto my lap to comfort me.

It, oddly, isn’t at all comforting. But that didn't stop me from speculating about how he would react if I were outside scattering ladybugs and he had to face the peril alone.

Clearly, logic is my strong suit.

In any case, a few minutes later my trusty assistant and I headed out to teach those aphids a little something about messing with the lilies of a crazy woman.

And I learned a little something about how difficult it is to bend 500 ladybugs to your will. I shook them, I poured them, I held the bag of them open and encouraged them to saunter out onto the plants…and some of them did.  But some of them seemed really determined to scamper out of the bag and climb up my sleeve.

“They’re all over me! I can feel them all over me!” I shouted and immediately began flinging myself about in the world famous “I Think I Have A Bug On Me" dance.

Someday, the neighbors are going to film the insane antics in our backyard and I’m either going to become an instant YouTube star or I’m going to be involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Or both.

It is in these moments that Opie proves himself a true hero. Instead of shouting things like "All I want to do is watch the stupid hockey game, is that too much to ask?" he muttered calming words, inspected my back and assured me that I was not, in fact, a wriggling tower of bugs

And if you're feeling sorry for him right now, you should think about poor Bubba who was snuggled up on the couch next to me while I started typing the beginning of this blog and a ladybug crawled across the computer screen. 

If you think he gets upset at a man screaming at the hockey game, you should see his reaction when a woman (sure an entire swarm of bugs had somehow hitched a ride into the house) runs upstairs screaming and rips off all her clothes.

It's not pretty for a lot of reasons.

But the long and the short of it is this: ladybugs are brutal! In the next few days, they swarmed those nasty aphids like one of the plagues of Egypt while I ran around encouraging them like a slightly hysterical cheerleader.

I especially loved this guy who ate his way up the stalk of the lily then settled his fat little self down into the bud.
I know you probably shouldn't pick favorites but I did.

In less than a week,  they have eaten their way through thousands of aphids and the garden has been saved so  I can start stuffing the house full of flower arrangements with reckless abandon.

So, to recap in a slightly shorter fashion, the ladybugs are amazing, I feel vindicated about saving the garden and the environment in one fell swoop but the Blues are not in the Stanley Cup finals and we may need years of therapy for Bubba.


  1. Love that last picture of Bub!

    I am so glad for you that your flowers were saved - will think completely different about ladybugs from now on! I have been checking to see if there were any updates on the ladybugs and them coming to the rescue!

  2. Funny stuff and great picture of Bubba. Good one of Jimmy too. Pray for my husband cousin Wellington Lemmer, he is being treated for cancer of prostate and multiple myeloma. Tough but hanging in there. Love to all Yates and Hough family, Laura