Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Visit From A Friend, Sort Of

I was cleaning up the kitchen on Sunday and found this little guy.

This is the Chinese lady bug. They were imported some years ago to supplement the American lady bugs we have because we didn't have enough to eat aphids and other nasty pests on our crops. Lacking natural predators in the US, the Chinese lady bug populations have exploded, while American lady bugs have remained fairly stable. I couldn't find any articles online detailing whether the influx of Chinese lady bugs has helped with the aphid problem.

These little guys have more black spots and a more orange back. They are also better acclimatized to colder weather so you'll see them active long after American lady bugs have gone into crevasses to overwinter. This version also bites. That gives lady bugs, in general, a bad name. The red ones, the American lady bug, does not bite. It's kind of fun to have one crawling across your hand in the summer.

Because of the benefits of having lady bugs in your garden, they are believed to be lucky and to kill one is akin to breaking a mirror. If you hold one and make a wish, whichever direction it flies indicates which direction your wish will come from. Finding a lady bug inside during the winter, when the bugs are supposed to be hibernating, was considered a 'good omen'. Nowadays, we know that just means the inside of your house is toasty warm and the insect thinks it's spring. Still, a 'good omen' is something we can all use.

Rather than kill the bug, I deposited it on the geranium in the front window. There probably aren't aphids on the plant, but perhaps it will overwinter. I figure it can't hurt. 

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea


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