Sunday, February 6, 2011


Back in Texas, we've got critters of the 4, 6 and 8 legged variety that keep you on your toes.  Skunks may look all fluffy and cuddly from afar, but they're armed with quite the deterrent system for anyone who wanders too close.  Tarantulas can be found beneath the ground in burrows, but we had a fuzzy fellow that liked to scale our house and cling to the screens of our windows.  It made for quite a shock when you opened the blinds to find him hanging out on the side of the house.  

A part of the crunchus shellus family, both roaches and scorpions are equally ickus bugus.  They can be found in the hill country of Texas, but the REALLY big ones measuring a couple inches in length are natives of southeast Texas where I was raised.  And the most disgusting ones are those with wings.  It gives me shivers just to think about it.  The upside is that they are harmless.  Not so, the scorpion. They are sinister little devils that can climb right up a plastered wall.  The little ones are kinda cute, akin to a pitbull puppy, but the bigger ones just look downright evil.  With the slightest provocation, they throw that stinger up over their back and mean business.  I've killed my fair share of them at school, a gratifying crunch of the exoskeleton, and once found a live one in my teacher bag amongst papers to be graded.  One of these days, I'll have to tell you about mowing over the nest of hornets several years ago in the backyard and earning 12 stings for my efforts to tidy up the lawn.  That was quite memorable.  

As I read over these two paragraphs I just typed, I am amazed that anybody survives Texas.  I haven't even listed the various venomous snakes, alligators, mosquitoes, fire ants and wasps that are also native to the state.  It's hard to get all fired-up about my ladybug infestation yesterday afternoon when compared to this bunch of true pests.

Since the day we moved in, I've noticed ladybugs in the master bedroom.  In a house that's at least 80 years old, I figure there are all sorts of nooks and crannies that would allow a ladybug to enter the premises.  I wasn't concerned because it was just our room.  My limited knowledge of bugs included the fact that ladybugs eat aphids, and we have some rose bushes in the backyard, a favorite meal for aphids.  I figured the ladybugs were just looking for a warm place to stay until spring arrives and they can get back to feasting on the aphids.

Obviously, the ladybugs have been busy procreating, because we had a ladybug explosion on Saturday.  Instead of the usual crowd of about 6-8, I discovered at least 40 of them crawling on or around the five bay windows.  Being cognizant of the fact that we rent, and not wanting to pay for a repaint of the walls if I started swatting them with a rolled up magazine, I hauled the vacuum cleaner upstairs and popped on the handy attachment that wouldn't leave any evidence of my dastardly deed.

That's right - I vacuumed up every stinking ladybug I could find.  I opened windows, shook blind boxes, ran a pen around the mouldings and even checked the radiator beneath the windows for strays.  I know, I know, they're just so darned cute.  They have that famous polka-dotted pattern a local bakery back home in Texas used to decorate sugar cookies and cupcakes.  People make ladybug costumes for their little ones at Halloween.  These darling little bugs represent springtime and flowers.  They can't protect themselves, with neither a sting nor strike.  None of those thoughts entered my head as I observed all those little crawling critters on the wall  because I was a woman on a mission.  Some poor spider wandered out - the first one I've seen in England - and he joined the ladybug graveyard in the vacuum cleaner bag.  

Let it be known far and wide amongst the insect population - I'm armed and dangerous.  Enter at your own risk.  I've got a Hoover and am not afraid to use it.

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