Once upon a time in a very small town there lived an old lady named Ruby Williamsby. Everyone young and old knew Miss Ruby the elderly widow on Elm Street because of her beautiful flower gardens. Not only did she have beautiful flowers but she also planted every year a vegetable garden from which she ate nearly all year long. Miss Ruby had no one to help her till the soil so she had to begin in early April clearing the weeds by hand. She would work for days on end just pulling all of the weeds and stacking them in a huge pile she used later for mulch. Once this was done she would rake the remaining weeds into the pile. Then she would begin to hoe the dirt making her rows to be planted. Row by row she dug the soil until she had the entire spot dug and planted. She was very fussy about her gardens and would not allow anyone to set foot inside of it once it was planted.
Now this brings me to the ladybug sisters. There were two ladybug sisters who resided in Miss Ruby’s gardens. Minnie was the older sister and Minerva was the younger sister. They had lived all of their lives in Miss Ruby’s gardens as did all of their ancestors before them. It was their purpose in life to eat as much as possible and deposit as much larvae as they could to keep the population going to help Miss Ruby.
Both sisters were red in color with seven black dots on their backs. They only way one could tell them apart was that Minerva’s color were a bit more orange-red and Minnie was a true candy-apple red with a very high gloss. Minnie loved her privacy and liked nothing more than to be alone. Minerva on the other hand was nosey and a busy body often called a meddlesome grump.
One hot summer day in June Minnie was busy eating aphids on a huge tomato plant. She had eaten several when Minerva buzzed in like a jet bomber.
“I’ll just whiz on by here and help you eat some of these juicy aphids. It looks like they are about to take over this plant!” Minerva huffed as she rudely deposited herself in the middle of Minnie’s private spot.
“Minerva I do wish you could find your own plant. Every day you come over here and butt into my business.” Minnie scolded hoping that Minerva would get angry and buzz on off. “Why don’t you go and eat some mites or some mealy bugs for heavens sake. You follow me around day and night. A person can never have any time to themselves with you flitting around.”
“Well Sissy our job is to help the gardeners to get rid of the nasty bugs that ruin their crops. Miss Ruby has worked very hard on this little plot. She would be very disappointed in us if we didn’t get rid of these darn aphids. The mealy bugs and mites will just have to wait.” Minerva snapped as she popped another aphid in her mouth.
“Oh Lord here comes that boyfriend of yours too. How in the world did you ever find that clown Foster? This is really all I need to destroy my day on this tomato plant. Take him and the two of you go romance on some other plant or even better some other garden. I’m really not in the mood to hear him boasting about his sharp antenna or his super strong wings. His is really just a bit too much for a down-to-earth gal like me.” Minnie sighed, hoping to have the rest of the day by herself.
Minnie was frustrated to say the least by the invasion of her privacy and decided to go collect some pollen from the flower garden. The dandelions were in full bloom and pollen was ready for the taking. Perhaps she could get rid of her unwanted guest by just changing her own eating place. Quickly she spread her glossy red wings and headed straight for the dandelions and the red clover. Surely she would not be found there.
Meanwhile Minerva was busy laying her eggs among the colony of aphids. She knew they would begin to feed as soon as they hatched and aphids were everywhere. She would not have to be concerned with them having food to eat.
Just then a huge garden spider dropped from his web with dinner plans on his mind. The bright-colored bug looked delicious and he had never eaten one before. Shocked by the ugly beast that hung before her, Minerva began to release a pink liquid from her legs. This pink liquid was a real permanent reminder to all predators that Ladybugs taste simply awful and they would be better off finding a different bug to eat.
The ugly spider reached out his fuzzy tongue to get a quick taste and sure enough he immediately decided that this bug was spoiled. The taste was simply terrible. He spit and coughed until his sides hurt. He tried to rid the taste from his mouth but it would not come out. He kept spitting until he was weak and his strength nearly gone.
“Oh my goodness gracious I have never tasted anything so horrible in my life. This bug is just awful. I can’t get this nasty taste out of my mouth. I’ll have to remember to tell all my family of spiders NOT to make the mistake I made. Gosh this taste is just nasty!!” The spider gagged.
This would be the last time he ever approached this terrible tasting bug. He didn’t know that Minerva had another plan if that plan had not worked. She often played dead and she could do that for hours on end. She knew most insects like their food to be alive and fresh. Her plan had worked well and she didn’t have to go to plan B.
The only things that Minnie and Minerva had to keep a close eye on were the birds. Miss Ruby had lots of birds in her yard. She even had a bird bath for them to drink from and bathe in. Birds had been known to swoop down and snap up a Ladybug in a matter of seconds so they had to keep a really close watch for their own safety.
Minnie and Minerva spend the rest of their lives in the garden of Miss Ruby and played a very important role in keeping the plants free from the aphids. Because of their hard work, Miss Ruby did not have to use harmful insecticides which cause humans all sorts of health problems.
As August came Miss Ruby had lots of red ripe tomatoes to eat and to share with her friends. She was very happy to have the help of the two Ladybug sisters and their families. As she picked her vegetables from her garden she was reminded of a little rhyme she heard as a child and began to sing it.
“Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away to your home.
Your house is on fire and your children are gone.
Only one child still lives and her name is Anne
She is hiding underneath the old frying pan!”
Miss Ruby sang this little song and as she sang she thanked the little ones who had worked as hard as she had to make her garden a success. So when you see the little red bugs with seven black dots on their backs, just remember that they work very hard eating up all the insects that are harmful to gardens just like Miss Ruby’s. Don’t collect them or harm them but allow them to go about their work helping to complete the cycle of life.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted May 2011
Question: Are ladybugs good to have in a garden and why?