So I was challenged to doodlewash a ladybug by the talented Sharon Mann who drew a lovely one recently (check out her wonderful blog and follow her if you’re not already!). With my penchant for macro and examining the world in realistic closeup, I present to you the Giant Beetle Who Ate Manhattan.
I discovered that these insects look a lot less lady-like in closeup. I’m not sure this one would be considered pretty as it sort of looks likes a rather angry cockroach who regretted his choice to go in lady beetle drag to a Halloween party. Though it is indeed a fairly accurate portrayal, I think this one looks a little more menacing because in my haste to pull references, I ended up on a website for Pest Control.
As a kid I was always fascinated with bugs and insects, and each time I saw a new one was always a thrill. It was like I was the first one to discover it. Being a pint-sized geek, I would then rush to look it up in the encyclopedia hoping that it wouldn’t actually be found there. But alas, I was always disappointed to find that someone had made the discovery first and indeed this insect had already been meticulously classified.
One thing that was always a small comfort was finding a bug that wasn’t popular enough to receive a cute nickname and was still forced to go by it’s often unpronounceable scientific name. That, at least, made it feel like I had found something unique and rare. And the nicknames were often wrong.
Ladybugs, for example, are more accurately lady beetles because they’re considered beetles and not true bugs – to reach this classification you apparently have to have “sucking mouthparts.” A truly unfortunate description. Apparently, these little creatures have “chewing mouthparts” and, of course, aren’t all ladies. There are male ladybugs who have heroic stamina as they mate for two full hours, which just sounds thoroughly exhausting.
As a very little kid I didn’t really have a clear idea of what this “mating” thing was, but I was just glad they weren’t having sex because that would be so gross. It was just exciting to learn about all the things I didn’t know yet. I would later learn about human mating when my father had the “birds and the bees” talk with me. This wasn’t really a conversation as he just handed me a box of adult magazines saying, “It’s all in there. Figure it out.”
But, male or female, these lady beetles are truly fascinating creatures. In nearly all cultures this little insect is considered quite lucky. In France, folklore has it that if you’re sick and one lands on you, your ailment will fly away with it. As kids in America, we didn’t care if they were really beetles. We called them ladybugs and we were just so excited to see one! When they landed on us, we were thrilled. For a brief, exciting moment the world stood still. And we simply closed our eyes and made a wish.