Beau November 17th, 2008
One of the oddities around Fox Haven in November is the Ladybug Bonanza that takes place every year. Sure we see ladybugs, or ladybird beetles around throughout the year, but from late October until mid-November there are zillions of them. So many in fact that they end up both outside and inside the house. And actually, most of these are not the typical ladybugs that many of us grew up with, but rather the Asian Ladybug. Apparently these little guys were released around the country from the 1960’s on, and first showed up “in the wild” in the U.S. around 1988. Since then they have exploded across the country. They do eat aphids and other pesky bugs, but they’ve also become quite pesky themselves. There’s just too many and they get everywhere.
Last week there was a great cloud of them behind the house, flying about on a warm day. And yes, they are cute little critters, except for one small detail. At this time of year- they bite! Maybe it’s just because they don’t have other bugs to prey on, but when they land on your arm and crawl around, you’ve just got time to think “How cute…” before going “Owww!” and brushing it away. It’s not that bad, but who expects to get bitten by a ladybug!?
And at night where do they go? They return to the Bover Kingdom of course. What is the Bover Kingdom? Well, please allow me to digress for a moment.
The young boy loves ladybugs. He’s still young enough, and innocent enough, to find joy in so many things, including little bugs. He has always loved ladybugs for some reason. He delights in their being, their color, their cute little shape. He was a ladybug for Halloween a few years back. He even has a little “ladybug house” that he uses to gather them up and watch them crawl around. Oh, and yes- the name. It’s “Bover”, with a long “o” sound. At our house they are known as “Bovers” from the name he gave to them years ago as a toddler. How he came up with that I have no idea, but one day they officially became known as bovers, and we’ve never looked back.
Except for the day he found a dead one on the porch when he was three years old and didn’t really understand the concept of deadness or the opposite of being alive. I remember it like it was yesterday… a loud “Daddy! Come here!” and I dutifully wander over asking “Whatcha got there?” He points with a chubby little finger and solemnly replies, “Look, a non-moving bover.”
We’re finding a lot of moving and non-moving bovers lately. But we’ve also finally discovered where they go at this time of year! They hide. Anywhere they can. Which brings us back to our story. While gathering wood to stack closer to the house yesterday we discovered the Magical Bover Kingdom! As we picked up one of the last pieces of wood on the bottom of the pile, we revealed the secret chamber of hidden bovers, that place of ALL PLACES for little bovers. Maybe it was even Bover Heaven.
They looked like jewels among the leaves and wood. Why are they gathered in such a way? For warmth, or laying eggs before succumbing to the freeze of winter? Maybe they hibernate… I don’t know. It was pretty to see, and pretty weird.
But at 4:00 am yesterday I also found that they hide on the bottom of firewood. It wasn’t my fault, honest. It was dark, I didn’t turn on any lights and I was sleepy… I was building up the fire in the wood stove and went outside to get a log. A log on the bottom of the wood pile. I brought it in and placed it right into the stove, closed the door as flames engulfed it and sat back to enjoy the warmth… only to see some kind of sparkly, shimmering mass dancing in the fire. “Hmmm, that’s kind of neat…” I thought. And it was, up until the moment my eyes opened wide as I realized it was dozens… (okay, hundreds) of little bovers scrambling madly about. “Aaahhhh! What have I done!?”
They were all over the bottom of that log and quickly became roasted little (sparkly) embers. Kind of pretty actually but I felt really bad for burning up a bunch of ladybugs. Oh if my son could see! In his eyes I would never be the same.
Well later that morning we brought some more logs in… I turned around, remembering them on the hearth, “Noooo!” I screamed, running toward the fire… (not really). But I did casually mention that there were probably a few critters hiding on that thing. Remembering our discovery of the day before he immediately ran over and said “Bovers!” At which time he began to pick them off one by one, finally carrying a handful gently to the door to let them go outside (the fact that it’s going to be 21 degrees F tonight doesn’t matter).
So I grabbed that “bover cleaned” log and put it in the woodstove, meeting his approval. And we’re a lot more careful about shaking the bovers off the firewood we’re bringing in now. But the little dudes are really hard to see. Last night after putting another log in the fire, he yells “Daddy wait!” as I jump, startled.
“What? What is it?!” I ask, and he says there’s a little bover crawling on the log I just put into the fire. Or was. “Where did it go?” he asks. And trying hard not to smile I say, “Uh… well, it went up the chimney.” He actually laughed at that one.