Thursday, January 29, 2009

something i miss



When I saw this photo that I took in a room upstairs in our house three years ago I suddenly realized that we don't have ladybugs wintering there any longer. For the first nine years we lived here I'd become adjusted to the fact that they got into that room from an undetermined entryway. There were never so many as to be a bother. They rarely flew, keeping mainly on the window sills and walls around the windows. I considered them little blessings and it cheered me to look at them on dark winter days.

Then we had all the windows in the house replaced last summer, a huge improvement to this old house built in 1910. Many of the windows downstairs were painted shut so, after the installation of new windows, last summer was the first time we could enjoy fresh air in those rooms. The rickety windows upstairs, however, weren't painted shut. This meant that even prior to installing new windows we had a cross draft upstairs in summer, but we also had air conditioning all winter long.

Now it is obvious. The ladybugs used gaps in the upstairs windows to escape the cold of winter. As we enjoy a lack of drafts and a reduced heating bill we have sealed ladybugs out from the shelter they sought by instinct for who-knows-how-many-years, even decades before we bought the house. What a sad and sterile consequence of our home improvement/energy reduction efforts.

I wonder if there are ladybug houses to buy or build. I'm seriously going to find out. We do not use pesticides in our yard and have welcomed ladybugs for the purpose of pest control. If there's some kind of shelter available for them it would be great to continue to provide a year-round environment for them. I hope it's not too late.

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8 comments:

Mibsy said...

You know what? we're on the east coast and we are usually inundated with lady bugs (yellow and orange though, not red) seeking winter shelter, but not this year! I hadn't realized it until now...no snoozing lady bugs in the corners this winter. SO maybe its not your new windows that has kept them out...hmmm, interesting research topic!

Darlene said...

I wish I could help you keep your ladybugs warm. Perhaps a Nature store could help. Surely there must be some type of shelter for our friendly guests of nature.

The Internet might have the information you are looking for.

distracted by shiny objects said...

I haven't seen any either, come to think of it, and we're in a river valley in the midwest. Something else to damn Google and find out what's happening:>)

Jennifer said...

I'd love to hear about a ladybug shelter if such a thing exists. We had a similar ladybug visitation when I lived in a house from the 1930s or so in the DC suburbs (though the windows had been replaced just before we moved in).

And, after reading these comments I'm beginning to wonder if there's been some sort of mass ladybug disappearance, which is concerning. Let's hope they aren't going the way of the bees ...

Buddha said...

Is been so long since I've seen a lady bug.
Something in the air - read pollution - here in LA kills them.
I love lady bugs they are not beautiful but very useful too.
They it the tiny parasites of plants.
I'm happy to see you love them too!

Lydia said...

@Mibsy-
@Darlene-
@Distracted-
@Jennifer-
@Buddha-
MANY thanks to each of you for your comments of interest and concern. You did indeed send me searching for information and I just posted a follow-up post about The Lost Ladybug Project at Cornell University. Some of you have children who might be interested in becoming "citizen scientists" involved with this cool database project!

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I almost want to search through my photos to see if I have any ladybug sights hidden somewhere. Nothing immediately comes to mind.

I really love the open dialogue that comments allow! You really do have a penchant for researching. I love that about you :)

Lydia said...

@WW- Believe me, I thought of you when I found out about the Lost Ladybug Project! (Thanks; I do enjoy the research for my blog.) It seems that you are ideally situated and superbly talented to be able to get some great shots of ladybugs. Like you say, you may have already so I hope you browse through past summer photos to see.

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