Sunday, August 10, 2008

Release the Hounds…er…ladybugs

Did you ever have one of those experiences in life where you anticipated an event, but when the actual event came around it turned out completely opposite from what you anticipated? Yeah, that was me tonight. We have recently had some new plants sprouting in the garden and I was so afraid that whatever killed our squash and zucchini and has severely injured our watermelon and cantaloupe will want to dig in to our newly-sprouting leaves. I decided that releasing the ladybugs had to be done right away to save the garden. The time for the garden assassins had come. It was now or never.

I suppose when I bought the ladybugs I had visions of this being quite a romantic experience. I imagined myself at sunset sort of waltzing through the garden like a pixie spreading a bag of quaint little red and black spotted ladybugs all over the plants. I was actually looking forward to it. The reality of it was so so different. Oh my God, it was different.

I took the ladybugs out of the fridge to awaken them just after dinner, as I was instructed by the nursery. Even though they looked dead, they all did indeed start crawling around their mesh bag after about 30 minutes of warm air. I was also told to put them in the garden after I water it because they'll be thirsty. I remembered this at about 8:30 pm so I dashed outside and turned on the sprinkler. I came inside to do dishes and then got ready to go outside and release them at 9 pm.

Let me paint a picture for you. I've got a bag of 1,800 crawling ladybugs, a large camera, the baby monitor, the phone, some child-safe scissors (all I could find), a chip clip (that I pulled off the BBQ chips to re-seal the ladybug bag) and a Coleman battery-operated lantern that I pilfered from our hurricane supplies. I went outside and the minute I hit the dark I was inundated with about 9 million tiny, biting, buzzing, flying insects who were attracted to the stupid lantern. I went to the middle of the garden and plonked down the lantern and attempted to cut open the top of the bag of ladybugs. I had been told that for the best effect I should sprinkle about 1/4 of the bag out each evening for 4 days, so I knew I needed the chip clip to reseal the bag and bring the remaining 3/4 ladybugs back inside.

First of all, I couldn't cut the plastic mesh bag with the Crayola kid-safe scissors, so I had to rip it. When I ripped open the bag I got to relive a scene from The Mummy. About 900 of the 1,800 ladybugs decided to make a beeline up my arm. I just peered down and saw all these little dark colored beetles swarming up my arm and I assure you that in the dark they did not look like the cute little red and black ladybugs you're imagining. I started shaking my arm madly and hopping around trying to knock them all off. I dropped the bag of remaining bugs somewhere near the tomato plants and danced over to the watermelons hopping and squealing and trying to dislodge several hundred of them from my elbow. Let's not forget the 9 million tiny, biting, buzzing, flying insects that are still attracted to the lantern and my legs. I got most of the ladybugs off and went back to the bag.

At this point I had already decided that this would be a one-time event where 100% of these little buggers were going to be released and I was not going through this again. I grabbed the bag and took out their "nest" and put it under a tomato plant and then ran around the garden again trying to shake the few hundred stragglers from the bag. I know I ate at least one. There are at least 10 still in my shirt as I'm typing this and I have at least 25 bites from the mystery lantern bugs. A moth the size of a hummingbird got caught in my hair causing me to shriek like a banshee, which then caused the dog to start barking at my insanity like he wanted to kill me. I tossed down the bag, the scissors, and the chip clip somewhere near the basil, snapped a few photos and called it a night.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin