First, the "I can haz magic garden" department:
* LIVE LADYBUGS! shipped in the adult stage, with each adult guaranteed to consume about 5000 aphids. You get about 4500 ladybugs per shipment, for a small garden, and up to 70 000 of hte critters for one acre (and extra ladybugs are shipped with each order to account for mortality). And then it gets really interesting, apparently - from the catalogue copy: "WIthin 8 to 10 days of release each female ladybug lays 10 - 50 eggs daily on the underside of leaves. The larvae emerge in 2-5 days... and eat up to 60 aphids per day. After 21 days they pupate and the adults emerge in 2-5 days, completing the cycle. ...If not released immediately, you may store ladybugs for 1 - 3 weeks at 35-45 F."
It does not say how many of the original 4500 - 70 000 ladybugs you receive are female, but let's say half of them are, just for calculation purposes. So you now release between 2250 and 35 000 lady ladybugs into your garden. The catalogue does not say what their lifespan is, but they each lay 10 - 50 eggs DAILY within a week of release. Let's work with 10 000 ladybugs laying like crazy, giving 25 eggs each. That's 25 000 eggs a DAY. These eggs hatch and then pupate and then emerge as egg-laying adults within the space of about a month (and presumably while the first batch of 25000 eggs are marinading, the original adults are laying more...
I am running out of fingers but HOW MANY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LADYBUGS AM I GOING TO HAVE AT THE END OF THIS?...
(And.... waitaminit...I am supposed to be able to store LIVE INSECTS in my FRIDGE for a bit if I'm not quite ready to release them...?)
*PRAYING MANTIDS shipped in egg cases each of which will produce about 200 baby mantids. You're supposed to distribute these cases over your yard (not on the ground, because the ants get 'em) and wait for the voracious little bugs to come out and start munching. They can also be hatched inside a paper bag kept in a warm place, apparently, but you have to be careful with this scenario - from the catalogue copy: "After they hatch [in the paper bag] they need to be released before they eat each other!!" (Yes, THEY have two exclamation points)
If you have fruit trees, you can pick the
*APPLE MAGGOT LURE, which you hang on an APPLE MAGGOT TRAP to catch up to 20 times the maggots you catch with the sphere alone (I am thinking ahead to the point where these traps are, er, full of their intended prey and kind of writhing on the tree...)
For general gardening, you can purchase a 10-pound bag of BAT GUANO for about forty bucks and change, and if that seems a bit pricey as an on-going investment, earlier on in the catalogue there's the option of buying an ATTIC CEDAR BAT HOUSE for sixty-odd dollars, and attract your own producers of bat guano (and having had bats at one of my houses in Africa, I can tell you, bats sure do produce guano. In QUANTITY.) The cute little "bat guest house" comes with "...instructions, bat information, and a little bat guano to get started." And for the really enthusiastic, there is FOSSILIZED BAT GUANO (do fossilised bats still produce guano...?) which you can only get in a single quantity, 2100 pounds, for $1280.
Well, if we're done with the garden, let's move on to the pet store department. Aside from the not unexpected crop of flea collars and shampoos (although the "ALOE HERB OIL SHAMPOO FOR DARK COATS", a "natural dark coat color enhancer" (brunette dogs, rejoice) did catch my eye), it would seem that my life has been rendered rather less interesting by my never owning creatures more exotic than cats or dogs. There's a section of the catalogue entitled "Delectables", for birds and reptiles and such. Let me share a few:
*WIGGLERS-TINY WIGGLERS (LIVE) AND WIGGLER TEMPURA (DRIED) - "dried wigglers resemble dried coconuts and are a nourishng crunchy snack for your pets". Live wrigglers are "Ready to eat upon arrival. To delay pupation, rinse the larvae with lukewarm water and strain with a fine sieve. When refrigerated, larvae will remain viable for up to two weeks. When ready to use, warm Wigglers to room temperature and place in a feeding receptacle that is at least one inch deep". (WHy am I suddenly channeling Klingons...?)
* COCOON CAPERS LIVE AND DRIED - "fly pupae that you may receive freeze-dried or live".
*TINY WASP SURPRISE - LIVE (I"m particularly fond of this one...) - "shipped as parasitized fly pupae and contained in a paper bag. The wasps emerge upon arrival or shortly thereafter". (Bright inssects. They somehow know when they have "arrived"...)
*FLY DELIGHT - "100% natural house flies raised under optimal conditions". The mind, it boggles at the thought of what the "optimal conditions" might be and what happens if these things get loose.
*COMBO CUISINE - DRIED - special blend of all the dried fly stages - larve, pupae and adults - uh - I am so glad the specify the "dried" and even then I kind of have this morbid fascination at the thought of all these generations tossed into the freeze dryer all together.... it's kind of cataclysmic, if you think about the whole thing from the poor fly's POV. These big galumphing bipedal monsters, first they raise us under optimal conditions and then they msss-murder us all...
*CRUNCHY DRIED CRICKETS - and I'm suddenly back in Monty Python land with an outraged voice calling out "LARK'S vomit?!?" in the background (afficionados will recall that another chocolate delicacy was "crunchy frog"...)
Look I'm sure some of you out there HAVE critters that eat these things, and you probably think this is all old hat. But with me it was alternately laughing out loud (at the NAMES of these things!) or going "Ewwww!" when I realised what was in them. Feeding some critter Fly Delight would probably make me lose MY lunch...
Oh, and finally, in the book section, with a gold sticker annoncing "A perfect gift!" we have a book called... "Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation" - according to the blurb, "A hilarious view into the private lives of bugs. You will learn about necrophilia, virgin births, eating your mate's head, male pregnancy and more!!" (yes, they do like their multiple exclamation pooints...) And here's more: "In an advice column format (the bugs write in) "Dr Tatiana" delivers tongue-in-cheek advice that educates while it makes you laugh out loud."
I may have to get this one.