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Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Arrivals: The Coccinellidae novemnotatas aka THE LADYBUGS

In the photograph posted above, all arrows are on a teeney tiny Coccinellidae novemnotata aka ladybug, which is perched on a leaf of my Farfugium japonicum 'Cristata' plant — a lovely plant that "resides" in the southeast portion of my urban terrace garden.

The picture was taken before seven o'clock in the morning last Friday — the morning after I had released ladybugs into my garden. Juan V had suggested I use ladybugs as a means of getting rid of some pests that were starting to nibble on my Farfugium japonicum 'Cristata' plant as well as other things which grow in my garden. Since I am legally blind, I do not always notice such things until it is too late, so I was grateful he made me aware of the munching pests, as well as for his suggestion that I bring on the ladybugs.

Prior to Juan V's suggestion, I had not realized that ladybugs were good for combatting plant munching pests. In fact, I had not realized that all ladybugs have "special organs on their feet to help them smell", or that they "use their antennae to touch and taste."

I also did not realize that ladybugs "chew from side to side and not up and down like mammals do" — at this moment in time — the ladybug's method of chewing would be a problem for yours truly, because, as you may recall, from a previous post in which I wrote about the Spilanthes oleracea plant, I have recently had a tooth extracted. This tooth was on the lower left side of my mouth, and since its extraction, I have not been able to afford the follow-up treatment needed, which has limited my ability to chew. Whatever ability I did have to chew as a result of the tooth extraction, was curtailed this past Saturday morning, when a bridge in the upper right hand side of my mouth came out while I was brushing my teeth; making the ladybug's method of chewing virtually impossible.

Apparently ladybugs — during hibernation —  feed on their stored fat, now this action, I suppose, is something I could do as I have plenty of stored fat in my belly. (BTW, my sources for the aforementioned ladybug facts as well as much more information regarding them may be found by going to this link.)

Speaking of eating, it seems ladybugs are quite the noshers and can eat up to 4,000 aphids in their lifetime (read more by clicking here). As I stated earlier, I have not seen any aphids in my garden due to my poor eyesight; but from time to time I've seen some consequences of their having been in my garden, so I welcome the ladybugs to my terrace garden, and I encourage them to do their thing. The ladybugs seem to be enjoying my garden, as indicated in a few photographs where they can be seen on the leaves of my Yellow Rose Bush, as well as the leaves of my Physocarpus opulifolius (Coppertina Tree), my Strawberry Plant, and on the pod of my Echinacea Plant. These pictures were taken before the camera-shy creatures headed into the soil for their "real food"  and they are posted (respectively) below.

Perhaps ladybugs feel comfortable in my garden as they are true New Yorkers in that they are our state's insect, or perhaps they are comfortable in my garden because, like the ladybug, I have spots which are due to the fact that I have the neurological condition known as Neurofibromatosis Type One (NF-1) which is something I have referred to in a number of previous blog entries, including ones which you may go to by clicking here, as well as here, and here and here, or to see all of my posts regarding Neurofibromatosis, click on the label in the labels menu (on the left hand side of all blog postings) bearing that name.

Because of my NF-1, I have six cafe´-au-lait spots; but as for the ladybug and its spots, here are some interesting facts (which I discovered in the link that I posted in the fourth paragraph of this blog entry): "most of them have red, orange, or yellow wing covers with black spots, some are black with red spots, they usually do not have their spots for the first twenty-four hours of their adulthood, and the spots on the ladybug fade as it gets older." 

Unlike the ladybug and its spots, the cafe´-au-lait spots of someone afflicted with NF-1 do not fade, ever, but, fortunately for me — because I have an olive complexion — they are not very pronounced. However, what is pronounced, are the thousands of lumps and bumps which appear all over my body as a consequence of having this medical condition. These lumps and bumps are referred to in the medical community as neurofibromas. They are fibrous tumors that wrap around any nerve ending and push up through the skin causing lumps and bumps in varying sizes o appear everywhere, giving one afflicted with NF-1 the appearance of having a case of Elephant Man's Disease.

Since NF-1 occurs at birth, I have obviously had it my whole life, yet I am often taken off guard when someone refers to my appearance. As it happens, i was at the Greenmarket this past friday, and one of the farmers asked me if I was from Queens, which is one of the five boroughs of New York City. I told her that I did not live in Queens, but I also inquired as to why she asked. "A man I have seen living there has your skin condition", she replied gesturing at my lumps and bumps. Perhaps because I was caught off guard, the hurt and shame that I have felt as a result of having this condition welled up inside of me as I tried to explain to her that what she saw on my body was not the result of a "skin condition" but was tumor related as a result of a neurological condition.

While there are many remedies — such as ladybugs — out there to protect gardens from aphids and other invasive pests, I've yet to find a remedy against human cruelty towards those who suffer from a physical condition. According to Wiki, "In many countries, including Russia, Turkey, and Italy, the sight of a ladybug is either a call to make a wish or a sign that a wish will soon be granted." 

Hmmmm . . . I wonder if . . . 

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