As told by Maureen
Amsy Eileen raises ladybugs. I know. Sounds strange. What use would the Pippsywoggins have for this common little bug? When she told me what she did, the first thing that I said (with raised eyebrows and a look of horror on my face) was, "Surely they aren't for food ... are they?" She laughed and explained to me about the honeysuckles.
The Pippsywoggins have a fondness for a drink made from the juice of the honeysuckle blossoms. Any honeysuckle will do, but their favorite is the Trumpet Honeysuckle which grows up the arbor that frames my studio door. They pluck the bright orange blossoms and carefully squeeze out the juice. They then boil the resulting liquid for exactly 7 1/2 minutes. After it cools, they pour it into little blue bottles and add 7 1/2 petals from a geranium, pansy or petunia. The bottles are set on a ledge where the sun will shine on them for 7 1/2 days, then they are carried to Katherine Ophelia's house to keep until winter.
Now where do the lady bugs fit into the story? Well, it seems that aphids, which are a tiny green bug, love the honeysuckle, too. And lady bugs eat aphids. So it is Amsy Eileen's job to be sure that the lady bug herd is healthy and numerous in order to control the aphids. She even hired Hawthorne Pete to build some little thatched roof houses for the lady bugs, to protect them from the sun and the rain. She placed at least 10 of these in the honeysuckle vine. Now the lady bugs don't waste so much time "flying away home", and can spend more time tending to the aphids. Amsy tells me that there are now so many little blue bottles stored up for winter that she just might be able to share one with me.
1995, 2006 by Maureen Carlson