Beowulf had it easy. There’s a monster? Tear its arm off. Well, then there was Grendel’s mother, but chop her head off and that’s taken care of also. Beowulf never had to deal with lady bugs.

There was a time when I thought ladybugs were cute. I remember watching them as they traced a circular path around and around a lamp shade firmly convinced that they were getting somewhere. Somehow I wasn’t aware at that point of the smell. Ladybugs smell like wet cigarette stubs. The literature tells us they produce this smell when they feel threatened. Maybe I didn’t produce that feeling in them in former days but now I do. They smell. And besides that they land on my computer and bomb into my reading light. It’s hard to believe, but some people consider seeing them or having them land on one’s body to be a sign of good luck. Not me.

We’re in that season of the year when ladybugs emerge from their hibernation thinking its spring and time to go eat aphids. Eating aphids is all they do for a living and I applaud them for that. But it isn’t spring and their tendency to head for warmth brings them into the house rather than the garden. They emerge by hundreds. Beowulf would have gone crazy. You can’t rip their arms off or stab them with a sword. There are always more. We keep a small plastic box with an inch of soap suds in the bottom and go around collecting them. It’s not unusual to collect over a hundred in a day – and still have one land on my face when I’m writing or even sleeping. It doesn’t feel lucky to me!

Ladybugs slip through the cracks. They find a way in and hole up for the winter. They like a light colored house. I recently learned that woodpeckers are more likely to be repelled by a light colored house. So repelling woodpeckers will draw ladybugs. You can’t win. And once drawn, they release pheromones that will mark your house as ladybug friendly forever.

The ones that are pests, by the way, are not a native species. They were introduced (notice the use of the third person anonymous, as in “mistakes were made”) within the last century from Asia to deal with aphids. The nice quiet well-behaved local ladybugs weren’t good enough? Aphids don’t come inside. They don’t land on my reading light or my book or my laptop – or me. Come summer the aphids can be dealt with; I’ll worry about that later. Right now I want to find that anonymous person who thought these bugs were a good idea and get him to come get them out of my house!

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