A little critter that brings so much joy

The Examiner

Have you seen the temperatures lately? What season is it?

It’s spring. No it’s summer. No it’s fall. I don’t know, ask a weatherman.

Diane Mack

When I recall Aprils of the past, I think of an insect. It’s a tiny one.

A gallon jar will hold more than 72,000 of them. A female one will lay about 1000 eggs in her lifetime. It beats its wings 85 times a second when it flies.

They say, in France, if you are sick and one lands on you, when it flies away, it will take the sickness with it.

During hibernation, it feeds on its stored fat.

Don’t I wish ...

They’re called ladybugs, and aren’t they cute?

Ladybugs (also called lady birds and lady beetles) are small, oval-shaped winged insects. These shiny insects are usually red with black spots or black with red spots on the wing covers.

The number of spots identifies the type of ladybug. Most ladybugs are less than one-quarter of an inch long.

As a ladybug ages, the color of the spots fade.

Don’t I wish ...

Ladybugs are popular.

When my girls were little, they each wore the same bathing suit with a ladybug skirt. They were cute, too.

In the spring, Arizona temperature can run between 80 and 98 degrees. It is very dry and hot. Many go to the mountains to cool down.

One hot April day, we decided to drive the kids to Mount Graham in southeast Arizona. We packed lunch and prepared to reach the top, no matter how nauseated it made us.

As we started up the mountain, we first passed Angle’s Orchard. By the time we reached the orchard, the temp had dropped 15 degrees.

A few miles more and we arrived at Wet Canyon. That’s a nice picnic.

We continued to climb higher and landed at Turkey Flat. Oh, the trees were gorgeous.

Turkey Flat had cabins where many families spent their summers. I’m guessing by the time we reached Turkey Flat, the temp had dropped to 70 degrees.

Just beyond Turkey Flat, we found one of the most beautiful sights in the world. It’s called Ladybug Saddle.

Ladybug Saddle is just a wide spot in the road. Perhaps, it was a benchmark for the men who first built the road. It is the point where the road, Swift Trail, makes a sharp turn from the east to the south.

We decided to stop and picnic, because we were too tired to go any farther.

The view was spectacular. I believe we could see all of southeastern Arizona.

Within a few minutes of stopping, we noticed ladybugs. They were everywhere, on trees, bushes, and rocks. It was fascinating.

We placed our food on the picnic table, positioned our blanket on the ground and began to look around. When we returned to the table, the blanket was covered with little red bugs.

The kids had so much fun. The ladybugs landed on their hands and hair. They crawled up their legs.

A little to the east of our picnic table was a huge boulder at the neck of a mountain trail. The rock was a mass of quivering red and black polka dots, trillions of them. I had never seen anything like it.

We had fun that summer day. It was as if we invited the ladybugs to our picnic.

You know I may not remember how many eggs a ladybug lays or how many times it beats its wings a second. But I will always remember one beautiful spring day, when our family, and as the song goes, “chatted away, at the ladybugs’ picnic.”            

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.