Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bugs Everywhere ...

I sometimes have a problem extrapolating from weight to volume. For example, a while ago, I bought a 4-ounce bag of Turkish bay leaves from Penzey's. It turned out to be a very large bag of very good bay leaves that Celeste will probably still be enjoying until she graduates from high school.

Thinking I'd learned my lesson, I later bought some spearmint from Penzey's. It turns out 1 ounce of dried leaves is still a fairly big bag, although we have gone through that one much more quickly and are on track to finish it by the time Celeste is in 2nd Grade.

Yesterday, I came home to find my latest such discovery of how much a pint of ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) works out to. The answer is a hell of a lot of ladybugs.

I'd noticed some scale on one of the blueberries a while ago, and then later found some on a butterfly bush and on the beauty berry bush, so I decided to order some ladybugs. While looking around on the Biocontrol Network website, I figured a pint of ladybugs would work. I guess I didn't really have a good feel for what 4,500 ladybugs would be like, although that line about "covers 2,500 square feet" should have tipped me off.

At first, when I opened the bag, I wasn't worried; sure the bugs were swarming out at me, but they're just ladybugs — the scale, aphids, etc., are what need to worry not me. I started dropping them out of the bag around the garlic and then the peas and raspberries before moving around the yard past the apple tree and mint and over to the butterfly bushes.

Although it was a bit silly, I tried to economize how many were released over in the daylilies and on that side of the yard; I wanted to save some for the front where we have the strawberries and blueberries. After working my way around to the front yard and down the other side of the house, I realized I still had a good 1,000 or more bugs, so they were dropped off back in the garden.

This morning, I went out to find ladybugs everywhere; it's crazy how many there are and, from the look of things, they were busy working on adding to the population. If Hyattsville has a plague of ladybugs this summer, we will be ground zero.

Now, I have to worry about what about 600 praying mantises (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis) will do to the yard. The smallest number of egg cases they sold was three and each can hatch up some 200 mantids. The other bugs don't have a chance ...


marchenland said...

Man... I want 600 preying mantises (mantisi?), but I want them to be 6 feet tall and armed (and all female, natch). That'd be soooo cool! The boys would be scared to BREATHE without permission.

Off to tinker in the lab... if you hear anything about a strange plague of men with their heads ripped off, don't look at me! *snerk*

(Actually, I was horrified to discover that these insects, out here, are huge and WHITE, or actually a kind of pale grey, and they HISS. Scared me shitless the first time I picked one up to rescue it from an office supply store and it hissed at me. Clearly, we grow them paler and meaner out here, much like the people. Our roaches, on the other hand, are fat, pitch black, and slow. The pope of desert insects, it seems, is the house centipede, which looks like a red dust bunny, moves like lightening, and eats roaches for breakfast, lunch, tea, and supper -- all at the same time.)

T. Carter said...

Yeah, but do Utah roaches hide amidst records and fly at the back of your head just as you open the mic? (Ah, yes, the Croce Hall roaches ....)

marchenland said...

Lordy, no. Our roaches out here are tame and even a little goofy in comparison. They have a lot to learn from their Southern brethren about keeping down the Man.

I still have nightmares about those roaches, seriously - wherein radio waves make them grow to the size of poodles and embue them with zombie powers. That's a real dream I had, or a concatenation of nightmares.

I never liked the things to begin with, and after that place, I was absolutely traumatized by them. When I think about moving home, one of the things in my top 10 list of cons is always, "Good GOD, man! The ROACHES! We can't go there! It's ROACH country!" (You have to say it in a Johnny Depp - Hunter S. Thompson voice to get the full effect.)

Good luck with your bugs!