Friday, March 20, 2009

the ladies

Where do you keep your vacuum cleaner? In the hall closet? In a corner of the living room? In the utility room? Under the stairs? Ah, yes. Those are all such reasonable, normal places.

These days, our vac is in the center of Hannah's bedroom. Plugged in.

Every evening before we tuck her in, we go through the ritual of a full ladybug sweep. There are usually four or five on the ceiling, the window frame and on the curtains. She lays in bed for an hour or so, reading and looking at her magazines. Every so often we hear,

"Ladybug alert!"


"Daddy-o, come get the ladybug!"


"Ladybug on the ceiling!"

And she lays there, glaring at the offending critter until it is whisked away to the bowels of the upright vacuum, presumably to rest in peace with the dust bunnies and cheerio crumbs.

Here's her "ladybug face:"

The problem is, of course, that her windows allow the Western sunlight, and thus the bugs congregate there in the evenings to get the last of the sun's rays. Then, with her light being on until late, they figure this is a good a place as any to party and who knows what.

Those bugs know when their number's up; they see (or hear?) the vacuum wand coming at them and they hunker down, drawing their spindly legs underneath. I've watched them after I've gathered a few manually - when you roll them on their backs, they are perfectly flat underneath with all those legs kind of folded up like airplane wheels in takeoff position.

Rumor is these aren't true ladybugs at all but rather some hybrid Japanese Beetles released in our area a few years ago to keep the "bad bugs" in check. We occasionally see these bugs out in the yard, but mostly we find them in buildings - such as our own personal home. As we've looked at properties for the last year we have seen colonies of dozens, and even hundreds clustered in corners of barns, abandoned barns, spring houses and the like. Even long-vacant homes seem to have a multitude on their western frontier. Back when we had chickens, they wouldn't touch them.

Did you know that ladybugs release a kind of yellowish fluid as a warning system to keep predators at bay? It is el-STINK-o. And bitter. How do I know it is bitter? Andy was hollering at me the other night to come for a major emergency: Abigail was munching on a ladybug. Little wings and a red shell were conspicuously on her lips and chin as she struggled to get the offending taste of of her tongue.

There's nothing really more to say about this, it is what it is, as Andy would say. But I have found that I have been vacuuming the bedrooms more frequently as of late - I guess the visual of a vacuum sitting in the middle of the room is a motivator?

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