July 9, 2012
Ladybugs in the Garden
One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I found small cardboard box sitting in some shade near the front door.
Inside was a tub full of 1,500 ladybugs.
My father had shipped them, addressed to Alice.
"Can I open it?" she asked.
We decided we would open it after her dad got home from work - directions advised that the bugs would be less likely to fly away if we released them at sunset.
While she waited, Alice carried the container all around the house with her, warning ladybugs, "Don't fall!" and reassuring them, "Don't be scared!"
Garden experts (including local ones) often recommend ladybugs as a natural method of pest control; ladybugs like to eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects that chomp on plants and flowers.
Certainly, we appreciate the benefits. And when we finally lifted the lid from the top of the ladybug tub, it was with fingers crossed that the critters would help keep our edible front-yard garden healthy and strong.
But to say we did it for the garden just wouldn't be true.
As the ladybugs spilled from their container, Alice was overtaken by little-girl shrieks of all-consuming happiness. She screamed when ladybugs crawled onto her dress. She screamed when they flew off the tips of her fingers. It was joyful to an extreme that mid-week evenings almost never reach.
Then the sun went down and it was time to take a bath.
Every once in a while, I see ladybugs for sale at the larger hardware stores in town. If you're looking to buy some - and, if you ask me, you totally should - it might also be worth calling a few nurseries and garden-supply shops. Otherwise, online ordering worked well for us. Here are several sources: Amazon (these are the guys we got), Home Depot, and Insect Lore. If you know of any others, please let me know!