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Phoebe's Brilliant Invention

Monday, January 16, 2006

A few winters ago, when the infestation of Asian multicolored ladybird beetles (stinkin' ladybugs, for short) was so bad that they were getting into our food and flying up our noses and tainting our morning tea, Bill and I constructed a light trap for the stupid things. For those who aren't infested each October with bazillions upon gabillions of ladybugs, these are noxious-smelling beetles that were imported to control alfalfa aphids, released upon this good land, and have since gone on to prosper and multiply in obscene proportions, like many foreign things do when brought to strange places. In the autumn, they are heavily attracted to tall, light-colored structures on ridgetops. Duh.
Every year, along about Halloween, there are so many of the blasted things seething up our siding that it looks like the siding itself is moving. They work their way into every window, through the siding, and they cluster in the windows, crawl across the dinner plates, and bite you HARD on the softest part of your neck for no reason at all. When you smash them they stink like nobody's business; when you vacuum them up, they stink up the whole room through the exhaust of the machine; and if you get one in your salad, you might as well forget eating the rest of your dinner. Noxious doesn't begin to describe how they taste.
So we hate them, heartily, as only people who have been smothered in them can. I know for a fact that my sister would never survive a heavy infestation of these things; I barely do. So we made this light trap, and I remember painting a milk jug black and suspending a lightbulb inside it and cutting another one to make a funnel and dusting the whole dumb thing with baby powder so the bugs would fall down into it and be unable to climb out...and over the course of the winter we caught something like fifty ladybugs, and we thought, well, great, but what about the two billion that are still at large? I catch more than that in my Caesar salad some evenings.
I went up to the tower room today to close the trap door, and found two little cups of what had been chocolate milk, forgotten there by Phoebe and a friend last Sunday. And they were full of ladybug-spiked chocolate yogurt. Bleaaaa! I was so intrigued I counted the corpses: 23 in one and 36 in the other. I came down the stairs with the cups in my hand and a big smile, and said, "Phoebe, I am not being sarcastic, for once. Thank you for leaving your chocolate milk up in the tower room for a week." She looked at me warily, then let out a squeal. Her eyes lit up as she grasped my meaning. Slothfulness sometimes pays off. Thus are great discoveries made.


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