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Oh, Thank Heaven!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Every October, along about Halloween, they come. Billions upon billions of them, swarming over our house, working their teensy way into every crevice, clustering around the windows, pooping on the glass in tiny sticky orange spots. From there, they find their way into light fixtures, where they die by the hundred. They also appear in our food, our hair, our mouths, in the glasses of water at our bedside (gulp in darkness, foul, acrid taste, ptooo! curse!) When they get on our necks or arms, they bite, a hot needle. They are everywhere.

We rarely see them before Halloween. But we just got an early taste of what this winter's going to be like. A warm October afternoon, just the kind of day you want to be in and out of the door. And there were so many Asian Multi-colored Ladybird Beetles (we prefer the tag, "f-in bugs!") that opening the door for even a few seconds welcomed several hundred inside.

All over the country, the same thing happens. The beetles are particularly attracted to tall, light-colored structures on ridgetops. Duh, that's our house to a T. From late October until May, we live with these things crawling on every surface in our house, stinking up the vacuum cleaner bag. Every evening, I sweep the kitchen floor, netting a dustpan absolutely full of dead bugs. Their frass collects like brown dust on all the windowsills. They stink to high heaven, they bite, and they are absolutely disgusting. And there is nothing we can do about it.

I know several women, who I will not name, who I know for a fact would not survive having their homes so infested. They would simply up and die of horror. I pray that these people will never have to host 10 bazillion ladybugs each winter, as we do. They would go barking mad.

But I am thankful, deeply thankful, and I'm sure millions of other homeowners, host to billions upon billions of ladybugs, are thankful too. Because these highly beneficial insects, we are told, eat alfalfa aphids. That's why they were imported from Asia. There are so many good things that have been imported from Asia. Hmmm. Multiflora rose, walking catfish, Japanese honeysuckle, Ailanthus trees, and kudzu, to name just a few standouts. And if there's anything that's worth putting up with this infestation, year in and year out, it's a reduction in the number of alfalfa aphids in this poor old world. And so we sleep well at night, drinking ladybugs in our bedside glasses, brushing ladybugs off our pajama sleeves and digging them out of the folds of our necks, knowing that the alfalfa aphid is finally under biological control.


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