My 7 year old daughter and I took a trip to Roger's Gardens yesterday here in Corona del Mar, California. Rogers is like "the place" to get nice quality plants and gardening related items.
We were there for a few items to help expand our garden at home. While browsing a particular area my daughter noticed the pentagon shaped fridge sitting off in an alcove. Low and behold, Ladybugs, Ladybugs and more Ladybugs. You should have seen her face. Of course she has handled her share of individual Ladybugs or maybe even a few of them. But, these were pint size containers that had 1,500+ Ladybugs in them. The fridge keeps them comatose. :)
So, we picked up one container and added it to our cart (a real cart that is). While walking around a bit, things warmed up for the Ladybugs and they started to come to life. She couldn't keep her eyes off of them, she held that container like it was a pet. There's a black screen in the lid so you can see them moving about.
We get home about an hour later and the plan is to let them loose in the garden right at about Sunset, that's a few hours off and she won't be here for that part of the process. We get inside the house and I let her know not to remove the lid from the container while we are inside. "Okay Daddy". I have to leave her alone for a moment or two while I take care of a few things. A couple minutes later...
Yes honey? "Hurry, come here!"
lol! Okay, she didn't remove the lid but, she squeezed the sides of the cardboard container which in turn created an opening large enough for a couple to escape. You should have seen the panic in her eyes, priceless. :) Daddy fixed it and all was well.
"Honey, let's go outside and you can take the lid off." Kids are usually brave when it comes to Ladybugs. Handling one or two is no big deal. Give them a container of 1,500+ Ladybugs and pull the lid off and watch what happens! LOL!
Okay, lid back on and after a few minutes of rapid movement (dancing like Michael Jackson), we got the last Ladybug out of her britches. I think she has a much different perspective on Ladybugs now. Its different when there are 30-40 of those things crawling up your arm, dropping in your britches, etc. Even though they are harmless, it's that whole "creepy crawly" feeling that you have to contend with.
Now we come to the fun part. "Daddy, did you know that the Male Ladybugs have spots and the Female Ladybugs don't have spots?" No honey, I didn't know that, are you sure? "Yes, our teacher told us that." Okay, that's neat to know.
Then the neighbor's daughter comes by and sees the Ladybugs. She tells my daughter that the Male Ladybugs don't have spots and the Female Ladybugs do have spots. "But wait, my teacher said its the other way around."
Ladies (my daugher is 7, the neighbor's daughter is 8), let me go Google it and see what I can find. Well, you'll be happy to know that we don't have a container full of Male Ladybugs. The spots do not determine whether it is a male or female. In fact, it is really difficult to figure out which is which, even for experts. I did find out that there could be up to 24 spots and there are over 500 species here in the U.S. alone. I'm amazed at how much stuff I'm learning with my 7 year old daughter, she's an information junkie!
So, here come's the tough question. "Daddy, how can we tell which one's are the males and which ones are the females? (Oh-oh...)
"Honey, its really hard to tell. If you see two Ladybugs together, the one on top is the male."
She took a peek in the container and by golly, we have quite a few males.
What? I had to tell her. How else could I explain it to her? I surely couldn't do this...