Bug A, Bug B, and Insect Inequality

Bug A was the tiniest ladybug I’ve ever seen. A little-girl bug, really. Or even a toddlerbug or a babybug.

How do ladybugs come into the world, anyway? I don’t know and don’t care enough at the moment to look it up, but I vaguely assume they hatch from eggs. This unscientific conclusion is mostly because they usually show up in the kitchen during the winter, when they certainly haven’t come in from outside. I just figure their mothers must have laid eggs inside the window frames or under the leaves of the house plants.

The ones I see around the kitchen sink just appear. I’ll notice one crawling along the faucet or the counter or the window. Or I fish one out of the dish water—still alive if it’s lucky, belly-up if it’s not. To my uneducated eye, they all look like fully functional adults.

But this teeny tiny ladybug was certainly small enough to seem newly hatched. Its arrival also tends to support the house plant theory, because it appeared inside a vase on the dining room table. I figured it must have come in with the bouquet of tulips I had put into the vase.

It was on top of the water, and I figured it was a goner until I realized it was swimming. (“Waiter, what’s this ladybug doing inside my vase?” “Looks like the Australian crawl to me.”)

For all I know, the ladybug was not only fine but having a grand old time in there. But still, I couldn’t just leave it there to drown. I dug out a slender quarter-teaspoon measuring spoon, fished the no doubt bewildered bug out of the water, and left it on the kitchen counter to dry.

Later the same day, I noticed Bug B. It was a long-legged beetley type of critter that I also sometimes see in the house during the winter. We’ve never been formally introduced, but I think it’s some sort of cousin to the boxelder bug. All I know about it is that when you squish one, its final act is to emit an unpleasant smell. I know this because whenever I spot one of these bugs in the kitchen, I squish it.

This really isn’t fair. Why, in the bug-swatting wars, do ladybugs get a pass? Apparently they eat aphids, so their presence might be helpful to house plants. But for all I know, the smelly bugs eat aphids, too. Spiders eat flies and other undesirables, so we probably should encourage at least a few of them to stick around by leaving their webs here and there. (Hm, come to think of it, that’s actually just what I do.)

The answer is probably very simple. Ladybugs are cute. It’s the spots, I think, or perhaps the cheerful red color. Or maybe the way they don’t scuttle like their less appealing relatives. Instead, they zip across the counter on invisible feet, resembling miniature VW beetles.

Comparing Bug A and Bug B left me pondering the whole matter of bug-squishing, the shallowness of the human psyche, and the beneficial role of bugs in general. I thought deep thoughts about this for a couple of days.

Until, needing a drink of water, I picked up the drinking glass I had left by the kitchen sink. Inside it was a tiny, innocuous spider. It was doing no harm. No doubt it was just waiting to grow big enough to spin a beneficial fly-catching web.

Without a qualm, I poured it down the sink.

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