The Good Life: Ladybug, Ladybug

Some pest control specialists moved into my garden lately and they’ve been very very busy!

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Common Australian Lady Beetles.  They weren’t busy when I went to get the camera but… nature does what nature does.

Other than busying themselves with the above activity[1], they’ve really been busy with eating!  I’ve been noticing a significant decrease in the aphid populations in the New Castle gardens.

Australia has a number of species of ladybirds that actually farm aphids instead of eating them, so to make sure that I had the right species, I turned to an online ladybug identification website and it told me that I had a mix of Asian Harlequin Lady Beetles and Common Australian Lady Beetles.

As a general rule, Ladybirds tend to be polite little garden denizens.  They clean up aphids in the hundreds and generally keep out of your way.  In fact, they’re extremely good at migrating away from the rabbit’s breakfast wheat once it’s harvested.  I only have to shake the wheat once and they just fly away.

Plus, they’re super cute!

It’s been really hot and dry out here in New Castle, so I have been hose watering the garden once every two days.

I was out watering the garden one morning, when I felt a really sharp pain in my leg on the inside of my boot.  It was excruciating!  I immediately dropped the hose and started clawing at my boot to get it off.

It was sheer panic.

“Oh no!”  I thought, “I live in Australia.  It’s probably some nasty spider and I’m gonna die a horrible horrible death.”

Imagine my surprise when I looked down to see a titchy little ladybird chewing away at my shin.  It flew away once I started picking at it and made off with a small chunk of my flesh.

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The hole in my shin several days after the fact.  It’s a pretty big hole for such a tiny bug!

Owwwwwww.

It turns out that Asian Harlequin Ladybirds are notorious for turning to human resources when conditions are bad and they’re desperate for food or water.  Their mandibles have a lot of difficulty piercing human skin, so they tend to bite very very hard when given the chance.  The little thing was probably dying of thirst when it decided to hitch a ride in my boot.

Poor fella.  I couldn’t stay mad at him for long.

After all, he was just so cute.

PS.  Check out this comic from Scandinavia and the World on the many names of the Ladybird!


[1]Nature is beautiful.

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Crazy Hat Day: Paper Ladybird Bug Hat

Little E’s nursery school occasionally has dress-up days where kids come to class wearing something that they have created themselves at home. This year, the school has decided to have a Crazy Hat Day, so we decided to make a Ladybird Bug Hat from paper!

Here’s how we made it:

Materials:

  1. Red construction paper (we used an A3 and an A4 sheet of paper)
  2. Black construction paper (we didn’t have any at home so Little E painted an A3 sheet of art block instead)
  3. White paper
  4. Ruler
  5. Pencil
  6. Scissors
  7. Sticky tape and/or glue (we used a combination of red washi tape and PVC glue)
  8. (Optional) Clothes pegs
  9. (Optional) Black pipe cleaners

Instructions:

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1. Using a ruler and pencil mark draw a line lengthwise across the bottom of the red construction paper(s) about 1.5-2 inches wide. This will form the hatband that goes around the head, so if it is not long enough, you can add more sheets of paper as necessary and just sticky tape them together.

2. Using the ruler and pencil, mark out strips breadthwise about 1.5-2 inches wide across the whole sheet of paper.

3. Using scissors, cut along the strips, stopping at the lengthwise lines at the bottom. I let Little E cut these herself as it doesn’t really matter if the strips are a little bit crooked or jagged.

4. Tape the red construction paper together at the ends to form the hatband and adjust it to fit your child’s head.

ladybird-paper-hat-how5. Pull the strips of red construction paper across to the other side of the hatband and fix the ends to the hatband with tape or glue (we used red washi tape for this). The strips should overlap each other and it doesn’t really matter if the strips are fixed to the inside or outside edge of the hatband. Once you are done, you should end up with a dome-shaped hat.

6. From the black construction paper, cut out a large semi-circle, some small round circles (as the spots on the ladybird – we decided to make six round circles but you can have as many or as few as you want) and six thick rectangular strips about 1-1.5 inches in width and at least 5 inches long.

7. From white paper, cut out 2 small shapes – these will form the eyes of the ladybird bug so you can make them any shape you fancy. We decided to go with semi-circles.

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8. If you have black pipe cleaners you can use them as the feelers (and legs, if you wish) of the ladybird bug. We didn’t have any on hand, so we cut out two extra-thin strips of black paper, and I curled them using the scissors.

9. Assemble the head and legs of the ladybird bug using tape or glue. For the legs, we looped the six thick strips rectangular paper in half and fixed them with a dab of glue, but double sided sticky tape would do just as well.

10. Fix the head of the ladybird bug to the front of the hat using tape or glue. We used PVC glue for this and held it together with clothes pegs until the glue dried.

11. Glue or tape the black spots onto the top of the ladybird bug in any pattern you wish.

ladybird-bug-paper-hat-crazy12. Finally, make the legs of the ladybird bug by folding a crease about half an inch thick at the flat end of the loops.

13. Using a glue or tape, fix the legs of the ladybird bug to the inside of the hatband, three on each side. We used glue and clothes pegs to hold the legs in place until the glue dried.

Little E is ready for Crazy Hat Day

Little E is ready for Crazy Hat Day

It turned out a lot better than I expected, considering that the actual construction of the hat was done entirely by 4 year old Little E!

You can probably modify this hat to form different little bugs – for example, yellow and black paper to make a bumblebee!