One night at the farm I fell asleep watching the silhouette of ladybugs move across the screen of my laptop. The two insects flew and crawled in criss-cross paths from the top to the bottom of the lit screen and hypnotized me into slumber. It is safe to assume that when my laptop powered down and the light went out the ladybugs returned to their regular haunts behind the curtains covering the window above my head because I woke the next morning to a gentle buzz coming from that direction. When I finally sat up in bed I was surprised to see about more than a dozen ladybugs flying, crawling, and on their backs in the space between the recessed window and curtains.
I watched them for a while. Some flew a short distance then landed on the curtains and started inching their way over the soft white waves of fabric that probably seemed like an endless sea to them. I grabbed my smartphone from the night table and tried to take a picture of a tiny ladybug as she crawled up the curtain. But the zoom couldn’t focus on her tiny moving body. Then because I got too close she started to open her wings as if anticipating a danger she might have to flee. I backed away.
Determined to get a picture I opened the curtains to get access to her siblings that were moving purposefully along the window sill. I took a shot of one of them – I think the zoom captured enough of her details. Then I lay back in bed and watched a few more of the black-dotted, red bodies move across the curtains a little while longer before moving my sore body out of bed to go downstairs to take my late morning mixture of medications.
I cautiously navigated my way down the stairs and found everyone in the sitting room. When I recounted my ladybug tale I learned that there were more of them downstairs and in other rooms of the house. After a brief chat my friend that was hosting the farmhouse getaway turned on a shop-vac to continue vacuuming up another kind of infestation: cluster flies. At any time of the year there are dozens of flies trapped on flypaper that is taped to the inside of all the windows of the house. Those flies that don’t stay stuck to the flypaper die shortly after and fall to their deaths on the window sills, between the panes of the windows, and in hidden corners
Later in the day my friend explained that these infestations are the result of a few things: her farm is a working farm with almost 100 acres of land that gets fertilized with manure to grow grain for animal feed. The fertilized fields attract a variety of bugs and animals – bears have been known to come down from nearby hills. The house itself is about 100 years old and there are crevices that have developed between the baseboards and the walls and floors into which the flies and other bugs lay their eggs. These eggs are able to survive in the safety of the crevices and then hatch to produce this mass of bugs.
I reread that last sentence and realized it makes it sound as if there was a swarm of bugs flying through the house. That is never the case. It’s just easy to notice the intermittent buzzing and their bodies darting around the rooms. And it’s easy to see the flies that have the misfortune of landing on the transparent flypaper on the windows or all the bugs that have come to rest on the window sills.
Bugs aside, I enjoy visiting this farm. I’m getting used to the flies, but I would prefer infestations of red-winged ladybugs because anything that can draw my attention away from my pain for a while is a welcome distraction.
Phish – Farmhouse