Interesting Top Ten Lists

Top Ten Observations Regarding the Nest of Ladybirds in our Front Room.

In Animals, Top Ten on January 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm

1. The Ladybird Nest Occurs In Nature

There’s nothing unique about our ladybird nest. Ladybirds nest in groups to survive winter. I had no idea. Neither did my partner. At first, I thought it was something fungal, or perhaps something to do with spiders. They’re clustered in the corner of one of the bay windows.

2. The Ladybirds Are Not Exclusively Red

They’re brown as well. This is why we didn’t recognise them as ladybirds the first time we saw them. Because they’re asleep (to survive winter) they’re just glossy brown dots – about the size of the transparent plastic beads that you’d give to children to make bracelets. The wood of the window frame is white. The nest looks at once repulsively natural and curiously unnatural.

3. They’re Probably Damaging The Wood

I have the sense that they secrete something which will damage the wood. Possibly I’ve read that on the internet. Possibly they’re poisonous (as well). There must be something mucosal, viscous holding them to the wood of the window frame. I worry that when the nest isn’t there anymore, there’ll be a brown stain, and it’ll mean that we won’t get our deposit back. We don’t have a lot of money.

4. They Must Be Cold And Wet

Insects don’t care about that. That’s why they’re sleeping – that’s their method of dealing with the cold and wet. This is more a way for me to talk about my flat. It’s so cold that my partner is often wrapped in a blanket. I sleep a lot, although there are some other reasons for this. It’s so wet that sometimes there are puddles on the windowsills (we don’t have a lot of money). For a while, woodlice were coming in through a hole in the bedroom wall. Great, we thought, we’ve got ladybirds at one end of the flat and woodlice at the other.

5. It’s A Nice Flat Really

And the ladybird nest is a part of how nice it is. It’s run down, but the ceilings are high and we’ve filled it with our stuff. Bookshelves, giant plants, interesting chairs. It’s nice to live somewhere that insects nest (great, we thought, we’ve got ladybirds); it’s wonderful to live with someone who stops you killing nesting insects. I’d intended to vacuum them up.

6. The Nest Is Next To Our Christmas Lights

Which, at the time of writing, are still up, strung across the middle panes of the bay. I turned them on the other day. I told my partner that we’d ‘probably get a brick through the window: people don’t like it when you do things like this’. I’m seduced by the idea that people would be so enraged by Christmas lights still on after Christmas has finished that they’d brick in our window. That’s community (it’s wonderful to live with someone). If a brick happened, would the tightly-packed ladybirds stay, or would it wake them all up?

7. One Day, In Spring…

They’ll wake up. I hope that they’ll wake up all at once, and we’ll come into the front room and there’ll be a modest swarm of them. We’ll pull back the nets and open the window and try and guide them out. People will see us through the window, dancing around wildly and laughing. They won’t be able to see the ladybirds, obviously (people don’t like it when you do things like this). For a week afterwards we’ll find lost ladybirds.

8. Sometimes A Solitary Ladybird Wakes Up.

And flies around the room lazily (dancing around wildly), like a trite and mechanical representation of hope. Or it lands on something and then we notice it. I keep waiting for one to drop itself in my cup of tea. I’m a mature student, therefore I drink litres and litres of tea.

9. I Have A Sudden Fear

I’m worried now that if I get up and walk across the floor to check that the ladybird nest looks the way I’ve described it, it will have gone. The ladybirds will have left (I keep waiting). I won’t check.

10. They’re Nice Enough.

…to survive winter as well.

We don’t have a lot of money. Great, we thought, we’ve got ladybirds.

It’s wonderful to live with someone.

People don’t like it when you do things like this, dancing around wildly.

I keep waiting.

by Aiden Clarkson

Aiden Clarkson lives in Manchester and on public transport. He has done so for a number of years. He’s on twitter (@aidenclarkson) and if you email him (ai_clarkson[at] he’ll email you.

  1. I’d like to see your ladybird nest. I hope they have not gone – when the baby was small I had the same fear, that I’d go to check on him and he would be gone. He never was, thank goodness.

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