It began with a faint buzzing; little more than the sound of a fly.  But as Jan went to the kitchen, the buzzing grew louder.  She tried her best to ignore the sound.  It was an annoyance.  She went about her morning’s ritual, expelling animals to the outside, organizing the lives of her husband and children.

But as her eyes adjusted to daylight, the sound became visible and tactile.  Pouring her diet Coke, she looked down to see tiny forms swimming in the dark, caffeine-filled liquid that started her days instead of coffee.  Pouring the now revolting liquid down the sink with a sigh, she swatted the odd tickle on her neck, then felt the same on her arm, in her hair.  Screaming, she pulled a tiny insect from the recesses of her brassier. She looked around; all over the room, buzzing insects whirled above her counter-top, beneath and inside her lights, around the stove and even in the food she was preparing for breakfast.  Her cereal covered not with sugar, but with horrifying, spotted bugs that were swarming and writhing inside her previously safe home.

‘Run children, run!  They’re back!’  Dropping Pop-tarts and cereal bowls all about the room, they made a break for it, elbowing one another to escape the growing aggression of thousands of Ladybugs, that dove and struck their bodies over and over again.  Running to the front door, Jan yanked it open, only to be met by the bright, warm morning sun and a massive invasion force of ladybugs like tiny, winged barbarians storming her castle.

The humans sprinted across the porch, through the yard, swatting, spinning, yelling, spitting the bugs out as the creatures crawled inside everyone’s mouths, noses and ears.  In the end, the children and she lay motionless in the drive, covered beneath a mound of triumphant, flying vermin, happily cleaning their wings and languishing in the warmth of humans beneath them, sunlight above.  The plague of ladybugs had begun, and it wasn’t looking good for the home team.  Her husband, Edwin, slept late  because the house was quiet.

Alright, it’s not quite that ‘Hitchcockian.’  But it’s close.  The ladybugs have infested our home with a vengeance this year.  I hate them. I love almost every creature on earth, but the lady-bugs (or Lady Beetles) make me think of poor old Pharaoh and the assorted plagues.

Honestly, there aren’t a lot of things in nature that get me down.  I’ve shaken scorpions from my clothes and shoes in my own bathroom.  I’ve been most cruelly attacked by hornets while hiking with my children.  I have been stung by wasps at my computer, as if they were literary critics trying to make a point about my writing.  I can handle Fire-ants.  Every summer I wipe thousands of gnats from my eyes.  Once I was covered in black-flies bites in Alaska.  One might even say I have endured a plague of dogs, but I bought them so that’s my own fault.  But none of these creatures fill me with the revulsion, the bitterness, the venom that I feel toward ladybugs.

When I was a child, they were cute little red and black creatures that we occasionally found and played with.  Now, as I pick them off my body, out of my food and watch my wife maniacally catch them in peanut-butter on a spoon, I can only say that however lofty their name sounds, Harmonia axyridis, they are surely minions of evil.

Not only do they annoy me, they have made us ill.  They release a chemical that causes us to have an allergic reaction.  We have rashes.  Our eyes itch.  We wheeze all night.  Granted, there might be other causes.  But many people have similar reactions in response to the Asian Ladybeetles that were introduced to the US decades ago to combat agricultural pests.  I wonder how much time we waste, vacuuming the little monsters from every nook and cranny of the house and cleaning them out of light fixtures where they cook like pine-nuts.

I don’t know the answer.  I only know that few things cause me the consternation they do.  This year we’ve had a near-constant infestation in our house.  Apparently, I live in the Ladybug answer to Florida’s Gulf Coast; the perfect hide-away to rest, relax, stay warm and meet with your friends before you die.

I just wish the dying would happen before they get to my house; like in Asia, where they belong.

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