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The Writers Page: Larry the Ladybug

Larry the Ladybug
By Su Gerheim

"I'll never understand it. What? Do I look like some sort of he-man? I have very delicate legs. Trying to navigate these tiny limbs is really hard. I'll end up with leg cramps and heaven knows what else. I can imagine -- massive bruises, scratches everywhere -- I could damage one of my elytra and then my wings won't be protected -- this is not what I was cut out for. Why don't they send the girls out to do this? They're bigger than we are. They always send me out to scout the new territories. I'm such a push-over. I just don't know how to say NO."

Larry gripped the soft new twig and inched his way along it, fearful of the merest breeze. His elytra (hard wing covers) jittered open every time his balance wavered. He focused his compound eyes to pick up the slightest movement that would indicate an aphid or mealy bug or anything he could identify as food. He could turn around and go back if he found anything edible. His buddies, comfortably finishing the last few aphids on the nice flat leaf behind him were watching. He could feel their eyes following his progress, even if it was slow.

"It's times like this that I wonder if those buddies are real friends. They know how fragile I am. I don't like taking risks. ‘Just follow that big yellow arrow’ they told me. Now that I'm out here, I realize how easily I could die. One little whiff of wind and I'm a goner. I don't think I could compensate fast enough if a real gust came across. My whole life is rushing past me. My heart is racing. I can feel it pounding against my thorax. I could have a heart attack and they wouldn't even care. Thank God this isn't a hardened branch or something I couldn't get a decent grip on. If I get out of this mess, I'm going to quit hanging around with those guys. I can't take this pressure. It's ruining my health."

Swooping overhead, he heard the raucous scream of a bluejay. He froze. Completely out in the open, he was easy prey for birds and his jointed legs began jiggling. He almost lost his balance and dug his serrated leg tips further into the soft bark.

"This is not going well for me. Good Lord. I'm going to have to take flight, I know it. Maybe I can play dead and that bird won't bother me. How long is this going to take? My legs are getting weak. I can feel the strain starting in them already." He quickly opened his elytra in anticipation of flight.

He could see the bluejay through some of his peripheral eyes. It didn't look like the colorful, blue and black head was concentrated on him. As quickly as it arrived, it took flight and disappeared, leaving a trail of screeching noise. Larry immediately closed his wing-covers. Holding them open made him weary.

"That's it. I'm never going to volunteer for these search-and-find missions again. I can't breathe. I think I'm going to faint. My spots are fading. Breathe, breathe - get a grip on yourself. Those other guys can do the volunteering from now on."

The tiny ladybug pulled and tugged and finally got his legs free. Concentrating his eyes forward he caught a glimpse of white masses on a leaf overhanging the twig. Still trembling from his ordeal, he crept toward it a little faster.

Pay dirt, he finally found food. Huge masses of mealybugs were milling around feasting on the leaf. As soon as he reached it, he dove in and downed half a dozen of them in rapid succession. He turned around and faced his buddies.

"I've hit the mother lode! First come, first served!"