The Epic Tale of the Flesh-Eating Ladybugs and Their Untimely Demise

It’s fruit-basket-turnover in our house this week as we turn Corrie’s nursery into a "big girl room", and the boys (not wanting to miss out on the action) have decided this is the week to rearrange their rooms as well.  And I, being in a winter rut and therefore eager for any excuse to rearrange furniture, have agreed.  So our upstairs is a disaster:  mattresses in the halls, toys pushed up against the walls, hang-up clothes stacked on beds…lovely.  If I can find my way back to the computer on Monday, I’ll resume normal posting then.  Until then…another day, another post from the archives. 

The following was originally posted on February 27, 2006.

My four-year-old son Joseph received a lady bug farm for Christmas this year.  The day after Christmas we mailed in his certificate for the ladybugs that would fill it up, and he eagerly checked the mailbox every day.  A couple of weeks later, a bulky package arrived bearing a huge stamp on the front:  "Live Larvae Enclosed:  OPEN IMMEDIATELY."  (It’s not everyday you find larvae in your mailbox–good times, I’m tellin’ you.)

We carefully followed the enclosed instructions to the letter.  The ladybugs were teeny little larvae; the booklet told us we could expect them to become pupa in a couple of weeks, then full-fledged lady bugs a few days after that.  My son, whose heart is extra-tender toward any living thing, checked his larvae many times a day for progress, sleeping with the farm under his bed for protection.  And I breathed many little prayers:  Please let them live, please let them live…

And they lived.  Just as the instruction booklet promised, they shortly turned into pupa, then dramatically, in a few hours, little lady bugs.  Joseph was beyond overjoyed.  But here is something you probably didn’t know about adorable little ladybugs:  they’re cannibals.  Only about half the larvae made it to full-grown ladybugs, so the grown ones crawled around and ate the dead bodies of their peers who weren’t so lucky.  And thankfully, my sensitive boy just said, "Look, they’re playing!" as the carcass feast ensued.

And here’s another, um, interesting little factoid about ladybugs:  they poop in enormous quanitity.  I mean, they’re tiny little poops, but they are everywhere.  You don’t notice this when they’re outside crawling around your flower pots, but when they’re in an enclosed little farm on your kitchen table where you feed your family–trust me, you notice.

So, the other day, Joseph was carrying his ladybug farm across our entryway.  But he had opened the top, for some reason. He slipped on a rug and fell, and the lady bug farm flew across the room, landing upside down on the floor.  Thousands of little ladybug poops, and dozens of half-eaten carcasses, scattered all over the floor.  The wood floor.  The brown, hard-to-make-out-where-the-bugs-and-poops-and-corpses-are floor.  The floor my baby daughter crawls around on all day.  You see where this is going.

Big brother Stephen came to the rescue and searched out as many live ladybugs as we could find, which wasn’t many.  But Wicked Mommy had to get out the vacuum cleaner and suck up the poops and the carcasses (remember, he had no idea they were dead because I didn’t have the heart to tell him), and yes, a few live ladybugs, while my sensitive boy wailed in the background, "Mommy, NOOOOOOOO!"  Now there is a moment for the therapy couch someday. 

The moral of this story?  Perhaps there is a profound one, but I’m at a loss.  I’m coping with the fact that there is likely still much ladybug poop in my entry way, tucked into nooks and crannies.  And a traumatized four-year-old boy living under my roof.  This motherhood business isn’t always pretty, is it? 

21 thoughts on “The Epic Tale of the Flesh-Eating Ladybugs and Their Untimely Demise

  1. edj says:

    Don’t worry–your house is already full of fly poop and spider poop, and that hasn’t been keeping you up nights, right?

  2. Antique Mommy says:

    Every spring we have a ladybug infestation here in N. Texas. At first you think, oh how nice, a little ladybug in my window. And then when they bring their family and all their poop – not so cute anymore. Then you get out the vacuum cleaner.
    On the upside, at least it was just ladybugs you sucked up the Hoover and not say, the cat. The cat would require a LOT more therapy.

  3. Babystepper says:

    *Don’t worry–your house is already full of fly poop and spider poop, and that hasn’t been keeping you up nights, right?*
    Ok, well, thanks. Now it’ll be keeping me up, anyway.
    We recently had to send our sucker-fish, Banquo, to swim in the potty for awhile. Luckily the little begger had only been in the house for a couple days, so no real attachments yet. (And I was prepared, you notice, for Banquo’s ghost to make his stage entrance when I buy another sucker fish. Gotta love Macbeth)

  4. An Iowa Mom says:

    No, motherhood is NOT always pretty!
    Can’t wait to see the big girl room … I assume you’ll post some pictures! πŸ™‚
    Have a good (and productive) weekend!

  5. Jamie says:

    No idea they would eat each other…I thought they ate grass/leaves and such. Wow. So sorry for your little boy and the ladybug slayer thing ya got going.

  6. sugarcreekgirl says:

    I live in the country and I had no idea how Asian ladybugs take over in the fall and winter. This fall I went outside to THOUSANDS swarming the house. They covered everything and made it into my house. I now vaccuum up at least 20 live and dead ones a day- in the dead of winter. I HATE them.

  7. dmorang says:

    How funny! My daughter had one recently and two year nephew opened it and then smashed down the lid killing what few ladybugs made it. She was screaming calling him a murderer and telling him that God was going to get him. Let me tell you, sending for new larvae is just as expensive as buying the whole farm in the first place!

  8. Ashleigh says:

    This reminds me of my little brother–the lover of all little living things–who would cry when we would step on the big black ants that made an annual trek in mass quantities across our driveway each year. “Nooo!” He’d cry. “Don’t step on my frieeeends!” Those were most definitely big-sister-rolls-eyes-and-just-keeps-walking moments.

  9. qtpies7 says:

    I had a sensitive one like that. She grew out of it, though. We had a mouse eating the mattress of our hide-a-bed, and we set traps to get it. She was screaming at us “How would you feel if you were a mouse and all you were doing was living your life and someone tried to KILL you!!!!!!!” She also did that about a cricket that went up my shirt that I broke a leg on trying to get it out, hehe.
    My 4th child, on the other hand, would see a bug out the open window and scream out for all the neighbors to hear “KIIIIILLLLLL, KILLLLLLL, KIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLL!” Now the squirt was actually feeding a wolf spider in his room! I made dad get rid of it, although my husband did the same thing this summer! And my 17yo has a pet wolf spider in an aquarium that he feeds. I am seriously an aracnophob, I would be in hysterics if a spider touched me. I can’t even touch a pic of a spider.

  10. Frannie Farmer says:

    We have a flourish of Ladybugs in the spring as well. I used to think they were cute – now they really (REALLY) give me the creeps! ICK!
    Good luck with the big girl room. LittleMiss is {this close} to hers as well.

  11. Melanie says:

    We have an old friend who has no kids and keeps sending our daughter “cool stuff from Uncle Mark”- like an ant farm, butterflies,sea monkeys, a frog house, and so on. My new rule is that nothing can be given marked “Dept. of Agriculture.”

  12. Sarah says:

    I used to work at a library and one year the back stairway was covered in ladybugs. We’re not sure how they got in there but they couldn’t get out, and it was such a sterile environment they had nothing to eat. So for the next 3-4 days we had dead and dying ladybugs crawling all over the stairs. Depressing.

  13. HolyMama! says:

    oh no! i have to say, even though it’s been almost a year – do you wonder if there is still some… lingering around? that was my first thought.
    one that perhaps i should have kept to myself, now that i think about it. hmm.

  14. HolyMama! says:

    another thing…
    when i first started reading that post i thought, WOW. Ethan-6yr would lOOOOOVE a ladybug farm.
    hah. he’ll never ever get one now!

  15. Veruca says:

    Just HAD to tell you how much I enjoyed the ladybug poop entry. I laughed so hard. Being new to the blog scene I’m reading a lot and just starting my own. Your site is awesome. I’ll definitely be back.

  16. Pam in Colorado says:

    My rule has always been if it is outside, I will usually not kill it BUT if it is in MY home, it will die!!!
    Okay, so the little ladies were in their little portable home, but once it was spilled all over your floor – they are fair game. Of course, if I were dealing with this, I would not be so heartless -at least not right away. I would catch as many as possible and then my trusty vacuum would be fed! πŸ˜‰
    Hope the trauma is wearing off. Since moving rooms around is good therapy for me personally, perhaps it will be the tonic needed here for recovery. πŸ™‚

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