Sleeping with Ladybugs

This lady blog is about one enchanted night spent with my spouse up on the Sandia Crest, overlooking the twinkly lights of Albuquerque, NM. Before your mind races to Camelot and other places…Think ladybugs.

My partner’s birthday wish was that we sleep on the mountain top. We hiked in under the starless mantle of a very dark night, escaping the stifling, smoky heat of the city. We set up our tent in a ring of pine trees, near an old camp fire circle. After we were settled, we walked to the very edge of the ancient, lichen covered granite before sleep claimed us.

Photo by Sagui Andrea on

The wind was howling and fierce along the edge, cleansing us of any residual corona virus stress, partisan politics and urban misery. Tucked away on our bed of pine needles the wind sang like a mighty ocean tide. Our weary bodies and treacherously overworked minds and hearts were lulled to sleep.

I awoke early the next morning. It was first light. Trowel in hand, ready to perform my daily business, I stumbled through the forest. Suddenly, I began to notice in the crevices of tree bark, on fallen branches, in nooks and crannies everywhere, piles and rivers of lady bugs. The trees surrounding us were literally wrapped in ladybugs!

It was as though they had flown in as a cloud and fallen on the forest like a quilt. Their hallmark red-ochre color accented with black heads, alerted me to their presence. They were everywhere.

Ladybug magic.

I ran back to our camp to tell Kenneth. We grabbed the camera and marveled, following their tell tale trail. I found myself humming from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof,

Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles…

We had no idea we had slept with ladybugs, snugged in and enveloped. It was a very special birthday gift from the insect world.

Back in town, I went hunting. I wanted to find out more about ladybugs. What was their beneficial purpose in the garden. What meaning did they have in the mythical/archetypal world. What was the meaning of this particular fractal of magic we’d just experienced?

Animal Speak (Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, 1996) was my first go to. Ted Andrews invites us to experience nature firsthand, notice it, examine it, orient yourself to creaturely habitats. He writes, “nature speaks to us constantly, through it’s shapes, colors, textures, smells and varied expressions of animal life, it communicates to us about the world and our life. The symbolism of nature will vary according to it’s context, so you must know it’s natural context”. (P. 46)

I wondered about the importance of Ladybugs in our ecosystem. I found out that Ladybugs are considered a beneficial insect because they eat insects known to destroy plants in backyard gardens and agricultural crops. The blood of a ladybug is yellow and has a very strong smell that acts as a repellent, to predators.

From the larvae to the adults, all enjoy a diet of insects that are small and soft bodied. During the pupal stage, a ladybug can eat about 400 medium size aphids. Ladybugs live for about a year, but some can live up to three years. Within a year [one ladybug] will usually devour over 5,000 aphids. Larvae consume about 25 aphids a day. Adult ladybugs consume about 50 aphids a day. Their voracious appetite helps them play a vital role in the management of pests that attack agriculture.

I found out that as the temperatures drop, ladybug beetles (the family Coccinellidae) will fly en masse into canyons or assemble in great numbers and go dormant—something called diapause. Perhaps this was the phenomenon we saw.

Historically, the name “ladybird” originated in Britain where the insects became known as “Our Lady’s bird” or the Lady beetle. Mary (Our Lady) was often depicted wearing a red cloak in early paintings, and the seven-spotted ladybird (the most common in Europe) were said to symbolize her seven joys and seven sorrows.

In the human world of myth and culture, beetles have been associated with resurrection and metamorphosis. I perked up. Many spiritual teachers see this time of disruption, pandemic, and institutional failure as the beginning of a new epoch, an initiation for humanity for what must be birthed. The transformation of the cocoon. Animal Speak reminded me that the symbolic message from this most ancient creature, the beetle, might be my metamorphosis, as well as ours. Here’s the insect wisdom of beetle:

Stick together. Rest when you can. Prepare for change. Remember you are in the midst of a metamorphosis. What do you need to shed in order to welcome the new? Change is inevitable and only becomes more difficult when you resist its natural flow.

Ted Andrews (Animal Speak, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN, 1996)

Fig. 12A: Photograph of a convergent lady beetle.

If you wish to learn more about ladybugs and beneficial insects, you can visit this wonderful site by the Xerces Society/Bee City USA in partnership with New Mexico State University. They are bug experts and entymologists who are exploring all things bugs this summer.

As a bug geek, I urge you to allow yourself to be drawn into the wonder and mystery of the insect world. Pick one species and learn about it. Apprentice yourself to its fascinating intricacies and oddities. Invite beneficials into your backyard by providing plant habitat. Insects are basic to our ecosystem’s building blocks. We must avoid a bugapocalypse if we are to survive as human species.

Blessed be the ladybugs, bees, butterflies and all things beneficial!

Poster: Meet the Beneficials, Natural Enemies of Garden Pests


It has been hideously hot here in New Mexico this past week. Ninety eight degrees at the height of a New Mexico summer is not unusual, but 105 degrees Farenheit?

I’ve been harvesting and processing honey during this time. I regret not doing this at earlier cool, summer temperature of 90 degrees F. In triple digits, the comb is like butter, it melts off the bar— literally. The honey becomes a river, pouring through the hive. It aggrieves the bees, and I am crushed when this happens. Tomorrow I go at 6:30am, when the temps are still in the 80’s, to the organic farm in the South Valley, and remove this heat holding, insulating honeycomb, packed with the sweet elixir.

So, all this to say I have honey for sale. $15/pint. Unfiltered, raw, light floral honey. You will not regret a penny after you taste this!

If you want a square of chewy honeycomb dripping with honey, I’m selling this delicacy for $20. Delicious.

If you are local, contact me at or call me at 505-514-4982.

We will arrange the handoff!


These days, to stay sane in these times of spiking COVID 19, I pull out happy memories of travel. In May 2019, Kenneth and I made a pilgrimage to our holy honeymoon grounds in southeastern Utah— Red rocks country.

Bluff, Utah is home to a year round population of about 320. There’s the locals, fiercely committed to this land. Then there’s a smattering of river guides, archeologists, anthropologists, artists and students who scrabble out a living on the edge of Navajo country.

In Bluff we stayed at the Recapture lodge, renown as a hospitality center for the stories of legendary western writer, Tony Hillerman.

We visited Comb Ridge Eat and Drink restaurant. Our favorite fare. We visited Liza at Calf Canyon store, filled with beautiful Zuni and Navajo jewelry, fetishes and art. Liza was a favorite character in Bluff, and we could always get the low down on recent developments between conservationists and the fossil fuel industry, hellbent on acquiring as much land as possible. Our admiration for Liza was deep. She was a can-do woman, sturdy, cheerful, sun tanned and a lifelong voice for the land and waters. Her deceased husband, James Ostler, an anthropologist with the fabled Zuni fetish makers, left her the business and she was now taking care of their son with special needs, full-time. Her gourmet restaurant had long ago closed.

This year there was a new kid on the block. Bears Ears Visitor Center. An interpretive and information center for this sacred place of the Indigenous people. It told the story of a national land monument carved to smithereens by the trump administration, then served on a platter to oil and gas interests.

#visitwithrespect is the hashtag. My t-shirt and a bumper sticker remind me of this very special place, and to keep the faith for a return of this land.


Seems to be at the bottom of a lot of problems in our country today. Or perhaps I should say… the lack of.

Those who refuse to wear a mask as ICU’s are overflowing and medical workers are dying from COVID. Those who brutalize brown and black people. Those who drill and destroy sacred indigenous ancestral lands for a profit. Those who believe their religious belief and skin color is supreme.

Last week, I learned a hard lesson with my bees. Again. I waited too long to harvest honey. With the intense temperatures, some of the honeycomb had collapsed in the hive. I had neglected them. Now, I was raiding their stores. In my usual manner, I did not don gloves before I put my hands in the hive. I know my bees. I rarely get stung. But as the collapsed honeycomb split and spilled open during removal, the bees began to drown. Frantic to protect their community…let’s just say, I sustained damages.

Because the distance between a bee’s stinger and my hands in the hive is so short, I usually am very respectful. But this time I failed them. They got my attention.

#respect. It’s about the other.