A memory piece by Gail Lee Martin, originally posted on the Our Echo website in 2007 after the death of her daughter, Shannon.
Around this time every year, since we bought our home on South Atchison in El Dorado in 1978, ladybugs have arrived to help us grow pretty flowers and good garden produce.
That first fall Shannon bought and planted many bulbs in the cement-edged flower beds on the south side of the house. She planted crocus, jonquils, daffodils, tiny grape hyacinth, large purple hyacinths, starflowers and many others that I have forgotten their names. She was working at the Pizza Hut at that time and had her own money to spend for the first time.
The next spring she bought some Sta-Home Lady Beetles from a seed catalog that she had bought the bulbs from. Probably Henry Fields where her Dad ordered his garden seed. The lady beetle’s larvae devour many garden pests such as aphids and the eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetles. The ladies did their job and laid their eggs everywhere. When the eggs hatched the larvae began to live up to their nickname, “aphid lions.” These small, black and yellow critters are about one-fourth of an inch long and can eat their weight in aphids every day.
Most ladybugs migrate each fall to California where they are collected and keep in cold storage until it is time to sell them to farmers. But the ones that Shannon bought hibernate in tiny places around our yard such as in the creases of our large, pecan tree and under the siding of the house. As soon as the Kansas weather warms up and plants begin to grow, the aphids and other pests to our growing plants start eating everything green in sight but so does the ladybug larvae, only they eat the bad bugs.
Around the 4th of July, the tiny larvae will crawl up the white wood siding next to our back door and soon split their back skin and a ladybug crawls out. There will be hundreds of them. The early morning sun hits that spot and they love it. This magic of nature is still taking place and our guard bugs are on duty again, just like Shannon planned twenty-nine years ago.
I was pleased to see that plenty of live ladybugs are available for purchase from Amazon. So if you want to add some to your yard, just like Shannon did, you can order ladybugs online or check at your local garden center.