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the great outdoors

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

So, I was chatting with an internet pal the other night and he was complaining about the ladybug carcasses that litter his bedroom. It seems he always has a lot of ladybugs around. Sometimes alive. Sometimes not. He should try living in florida where we have cat sized flying roaches. They call them Palmetto bugs, but they aren’t fooling anyone with the fancy name.

Anywho, he was wondering the life expectancy of ladybugs and in his googling found that a newly hatched ladybug might feast on his brothers and sisters so that out of say 25 eggs, only 6 or so might make it. I did some fact checking after I did the comic and this can be the case if there aren’t any aphids around. Ladybugs eat pests and are cute, so just live with them and their carcasses and quit complaining. In my research, I did find another adorable fact out. Did you know that if they are threatened they ooze smelly yellow blood? How cute is that!

You know as a kid i used to bite the heads off ladybugs. I really can’t comprehend why I would do that because I was raised with a lot of pets and a great respect for nature. In case you were wondering, they taste rather tart.

Want to know more about ladybugs? Nah. I didn’t think so.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next week.


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19 Responses to “the great outdoors”

  1. R.T. Barnham III Says:

    There is nothing better then a species that eats its own young/siblings/members of its scientific family. I always found it fascinating myself… Like, male lions sometimes eat the young… shit happens! And there’s an entire species of snakes (kingsnakes) that eat other snakes (including other kingsnakes).

    As for discharges and blood, remember Garter snakes? Those little bastards can stink up a storm, give off a nice discharge when frightened… as do hognose snakes! As for blood, there are two species of lizard in South America that have overlapping territories, but absolutely no other discrnible differences between them (visually, itnernally, absolutely none…) except for the fact that one has RED hemoglobin and one has GREEN hemoglobin.

    It’s a cruel world out their, hot damn, and certainly an interesting one.

    Calan, you had a lotta pets growing up? I used to be into some serious animal husbandry… Look me up, I’ll fill your head with the breeding habits of North American Crotalids and Agkistrodonids. Fun stuff.

  2. dan Says:

    I live in New Jersey, and the word on the street here was that there were ladybugs and then there were these other doppelgaenger bugs loosely called “stink bugs.” Never did look it up though.

    On a side note, how would one even become inspired to bite heads off of ladybugs…they’re so small. Seems a rather tedious hobby.

  3. Adam Says:

    They’re a bit like humans really, when you think about… except we don’t eat aphids, well, most of us don’t.

  4. Laynne Says:

    Meeting a ladybug is cool. The way it schleps along, desperately struggling against the weight of the shell, losing control and crashing into stuff but all the while thankful for the rest-stop.

    A swarm of ladybugs in your room, on the other hand, is NOT cool. They smell really really REALLY bad–regardless of whether they are dead or alive, scared or chill, authentic or fake, they stink. 😛

    Swarms of stuff outside is super-cool. Swarms have many exciting and creepy properties, but underneath it all it’s just individuals following a couple simple rules to function as a group. Super-cool, I say!

    I’m not going to think about Calan biting the heads off ladybugs… I’m NOT going to think about Calan biting the heads off –pfftt! Gaak!– whoa, I think my stomach just growled. 😀

  5. Seraphine Says:

    next Lenoir will feed
    the hungry GingerDead her

  6. justme Says:

    Several years ago in the office I worked in from time to time I’d smell something rather unpleasant, like burning hair only more pungent. Over the course of a month or so it became more and more frequent and I tried to find the cause, to no avail. Then one time I noticed a puff of smoke rising from the halogen torchiere by my desk which was followed by the all-too-familiar smell. It turned out we had an infestation of ladybugs, and whenever one would get too close to the hot halogen bulb it would burst into flames. There were dozens of the little charred carcasses in my lamp.

    I’d always heard that ladybugs were toxic and you shouldn’t eat them so I never tried one myself. I suppose that must be a myth, or maybe you just developed an immunity, Calan. In any case you’ve satisfied a curiosity I never knew I had. Ladybug heads: tart. Who knew? (Well, other than you of course.)

  7. calan Says:

    i had no idea ladybugs were so smelly. how very unladylike!

    as far as them being toxic, i can pretty much assure you the heads aren’t. on the other hand, i prefer to spread rumors that they are so some wacky reader doesn’t try it. i don’t want any lil ladybugs being decapitated.

    Dan, i don’t know why i did it or why the heads but i would just use my front teeth to sort of snip the tiny head off. 🙁 i also used to eat baby clovers. in new york they grew all over my yard and the young leaves also tasted very tart. i have a thing for sour i guess.

    we also had a fig tree, pear tree and this awesome concord grape vine. in my mind when i played alone in our backyard, i was a ‘wild thing’. i would spend hours gaining the trust of litters of wild kitties that a stray had under the grapevine and pretend i had no place to live and that i had to survive in the wilds. oh, and apparantly when i used to ‘graze’ on swiss chard but i was too small to recall that now. according to my mom, i would bend down, hands behind my back and chomp on the swiss chard leaves.

    sigh, i miss being barefoot and wandering around that yard. here in Florida, we have fire ants and pointy things in the sparse lawns that make barefoot a thing of the past.

  8. Andrew Says:

    *shakes fist at the cannibalistic ladybugs that inhabit said room*

  9. Seraphine Says:

    I used to suck the nectar out of the bottoms of red clover blooms. I’d get stung at least once every summer by bumblebees. If I caught a ladybug, I’d hold her on my open palm and recite the following poem before pursing my lips and blowing her off my hand: ‘Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are all gone’.

    I also like dragonflies. Did you know dragonfly eyes touch each other? Chew on that, Calan!

  10. NobleSavage Says:

    Mmm, ladybug feast!

    Yeah I get ladybugs infested in my house every year around this time actually. They do indeed smell unpleasant, and some of them bite, little bastards!

    What’s worse though are stinkbugs. You can’t squash them or it smells like nasty grease forever! And when they die, even on natural causes, their scent attracts their friends and soon you have thousands of them.

    I usually let them ride their way down the toilet.

  11. Matt Says:

    Seraphine Says: ‘Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are all gone’.

    Oh man, I’d forgotten about that poem! Brought back all kinds of memories and what a strange poem too. National Ladybugs-in-webcomics year, GO!

  12. calan Says:

    I remember just the “fly away home” part. That second half is sad. 🙁 Of course, I had to find out the origins and stuff.

    The most common variation seems to be this:
    Ladybug ladybug fly away home,
    Your house in on fire and your children are gone,
    All except one and that’s little Ann,
    For she crept under the warming pan.

    I thought that must have some hidden political or religious meaning as a lot of the nursery rhymes do and it might, but it seems it was something that was said by medieval farmers prior to torching their fields to clear them after harvest and prepare them for next year. It was said as a ‘warning’ to the ladybugs. It makes sense that a farmer wouldn’t want to burn the ladybugs that munched aphids for him but ya know, it’s not like he’s going to go pluck each one off and carry it of to safety before burning the fields so perhaps reciting this little charm made him feel better and more confident that future crops would be graced with ladybugs.

  13. Rodro Says:

    Beautiful beetle
    Red and black polka dots
    Devour its offspring

    Did you know that in some parts of Northern Europe, it is said that if you make a wish, and a ladybug lands on you, your wish will come true? Also, in Italy, it is said by some that if a ladybug flies into one’s bedroom, it is considered good luck. In parts of central Europe, a ladybug crawling across a woman’s hand is means she will get married within the year. In Russia, a ladybug is called God’s cow and they have a song about it to bring bread, instead of being burned up. Similarly, in Denmark a ladybug, called a Mary’s hen, is asked by children to fly to ‘our lord in heaven and ask for fairer weather in the morning’. In Gaelic, the ladybug is called “bóín Dé” — or “God’s little cow”.

  14. calan Says:

    thanks for the lovely haiku and interesting post rodro. i never expected so much discussion from this week’s strip. it’s kinda neat. 🙂

  15. Faile-ure Says:

    The stupidest “poem” comment in the site!

    L ooks
    A lot like
    D ead
    Y oung
    B oys
    U nder
    G ground

    Ta da! xD

  16. Seraphine Says:

    The second couplet should be:

    Except little Nan, who sits in a pan, weaving gold laces as fast as she can.

    A nan is a ladybug’s pupa. Still within it’s pan (or cocoon) of gold laces while metamorphosing from its larval stage, it wouldn’t be able to get away from a field fire.

  17. calan Says:

    *claps for Faile-ure*

  18. ~Z Says:

    New reader here, and i decided to start reading from the very beginning. Sorry for the comment on an ancient post. I just wanted to say that i used to live in New York, and in the summertime I used to collect ladybugs and stick them in a box. And 99% of the time, when i picked one up, my fingertips just so happened to be coated in a yellow liquid.

    Gee, wonder what that was? But i think you biting their heads off tops me being coated in ladybug blood. Also, i love the comic so far, and somply adore Ennui. Gah, shes just so cute! I would have written in haiku, but i’m still working on nastering the 7, 5, 7 syllable trick down….

  19. calan Says:

    hi and welcome z. sorry i missed this comment waiting moderation for a few days. i didn’t know lady bug’s had yellow blood. pretty!

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