One day a small test tube filled with ladybug larvae arrived in my mailbox.
It was packed tightly in a box, within a box, within a box. Our mail carrier had no idea she carried such precious cargo.
The girls had been waiting impatiently for a couple of weeks; thrilled with the day’s package.
Inside, was also the ladybug farm. Rolling green hills of plastic; accented with grey rocks and dirt. There was a volcano located in the center with a small lake in the crater. A tiny magnifying glass was the stopper.
I did my best to slide all the ladybugs into their new home. However, I accidentally misjudged one and she ended up under my finger. Her demise was not in vain as I named her the Patron Saint of Ladybug Farms, protector of all ladybug farms worldwide.
Upon further research, I discovered that ladybugs had a very spiritual history. The “lady” portion of the their namesake actually referred to the Virgin Mary. Apparently back in the dark ages, crops were being destroyed by masses of voracious pests. Panicked farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Amazingly ladybugs started appearing in the fields and ate all the annoying pests. Originally, they were called “lady beetles” as they were not a bug, but a beetle. In Germany, the 7-spotted lady beetle is called a Marienkäfer, which translates to Mary beetle. It was believed she was named for the Virgin Mary. The red color of the wings symbolized her cloak and the black spots symbolized her sorrows.
Ladybugs represent good weather, good luck, true love, the gift of children, and even marriage.
Suddenly, Ava’s voice entered my meandering thoughts with, “Mommy, let’s count them!”
And so we did. There were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, ladybug larvae crawling around the farm. Snacking on the prepackaged food from the test tube. They looked like the smallest alligators in the world. One would never expect a ladybug to look like an alligator, but they do.
Day by day, they grew bigger. I filled the plastic volcano lake with fresh water. The girls pulled the farm down from the mantle to examine what was new in ladybug land that day.
We took them to show and tell at school. Ava was so proud to show her classmates the larvae. She told them how they would change into “coopa” (pupa actually, but she couldn’t say it for some reason), and eventually becoming ladybugs.
It was circle time. She carefully carried the farm around to each child; showing them the wonders of Mother Nature. She pointed out the magnifying glass at the top and of course, everyone had to look in it. Preschoolers are insatiably curious and ask an endless number of questions.
What color will they be? What do they eat? When will they hatch? What will you do with them?
Once our visit is complete, our Ladybugs take another car ride home.
Then we waited.
The microscopic alligator looking larvae have now grown into bigger versions of themselves.
We waited some more.
It took several weeks before we finally saw a big change. Each ladybug climbed the wall and attached itself to the plastic interior. Then covered themselves in a hard dark shell and became still.
The booklet said it would take 5 days for the metamorphosis to be completed.
On day six, I looked into the farm and there she was. Our first lady bug. Within minutes there was another one. I called the girls in and we watched as new lady bugs popped out from their shells. Wings white, void of spots. They crawled to a resting spot as their wings began to color and dark spots appeared.
All 10 ladybugs hatched.
And now, all the girls wanted to do is set them free.
However, I knew better. What they really wanted, was to hold them. They didn’t fool me for a minute.
At last, I gave in and it was decided. Saturday morning we would let them go into the garden.
Saturday morning, we walked outside to the yard. I opened the top and waited for the ladybugs to crawl out. Ava and Mia were jumping up and down with excitement. You have to understand, these girl spend a lot of time searching the yard for bugs. We’ve had several roly polies in our outdoor bug house, a caterpillar, and some other strange things.
Ava gathered her ladybugs and dropped them into the planter. Ladybugs surrounded by violets bursting blue, delicate pansies, and vibrant green leaves. I hope there are aphids for them to eat.
Mia is less delicate by nature. so I needed to help her with the ladybugs. They quickly crawled around her hands and arms and fell to the ground before we could put them in the flowers. I found myself chasing lost ladybugs, trying to get them into their new home.
We spent time observing our ladybugs, as they creeped around their new home. Ladybug condos with live floral wallpaper.
As they disappeared into the foliage, we thought fondly of our Patron Saint of the Ladybug Farms. We wished for good luck, good weather, and finally true love from wherever our lady bug decides to fly.
I am reposting this to Project UnderBlog as part of their theme month. For me, it was the fact that I even had a patron saint of ladybugs signaled that my humor was intact. Check out http://projectunderblog.com/underblogger-collective-link-up.