The most powerful cold wave this winter has hit the archipelago. Cold days continue, but I read a story on Yomiuri Online that reminded me spring was near and was also rather startling. It said the Chiba Prefectural Agricultural College was going to commodify “ladybugs that cannot fly” and start selling them to farmers.

The insect just loves to eat aphids, which are a menace to vegetable culture. There have been efforts to use the ladybugs as a substitute for agricultural chemicals, but they would whimsically fly away, a problem which is said to have been solved by a high school student.

The solution was to glue the wings with resin. But do not be frightened. The resin will melt away in about two months, after which they will be able to fly again.

The bug looks nice crawling about very slowly on a leaf wet from morning dew. It is not a bad deal for a big eater that devours 100 aphids in a day, even if it is not allowed to fly for a while. I am reminded of a poem by Michio Mado, who was warm-hearted toward common creatures:

Listen carefully to the ladybug, listen carefully you just might hear the faint, faint song of the rainbow (From “Ladybug”)

Another page and a half later on our calendar, we just might hear the song of spring if we look for the colorful back of a ladybug in the roadside grass.

The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s Jan. 26 issue.


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