Beyond the forest, at the edge of the swamp, a little red-speckled ladybug crawled slowly up the stem of an orchid. Her name was Lydia, and she was looking for her lunch. Today lunch was to be tiny white aphids.
Suddenly Lydia heard a loud buzzing sound above her head. She looked up to see a red scorpion fly hanging by his front legs from the top of the plant. He had a long, jointed tail that he had twisted into the shape of a hook to catch her and pull her up.
Quickly, Lydia opened her wing flaps and, spreading her little round wings, flew away. She saw just what she was looking for—a short, stubby plant covered with aphids.
Lydia landed on the roots of the plant and began to lick her way up. The aphids were sweet and tender. She had scooped up almost half a bellyful when she heard a shrill voice call out:
"Who are you?"
It was the voice of a sundew plant. She was tall and slender with a crown of tiny white flowers around her head. She had a skirt of small round leaves covered with delicate hairs. Each hair glistened with a kind of nectar.
"My name is Lydia," the little ladybug said. "What is yours?"
"My name is Sophia," the elegant sundew replied. She watched Lydia intently.
"What are you doing there on that stalk?" she asked.
"I am eating aphids," Lydia replied cheerily.
"You are eating aphids!" Sophia exclaimed.
"Yes. That is what I eat. I eat aphids."
"O, that is cruel!" Sophia exclaimed.
"Perhaps it is," Lydia agreed, "but if I didn’t eat the aphids, the aphids would eat all the plants. They would eat you, too."
Sophia shook the crown of white flowers on her head. "Just the same," she said in a scolding tone of voice, "it isn’t a very nice habit."
At that very moment there was a buzzing sound over their heads. The same red scorpion fly that had tried to seize Lydia by its tail settled on one of Sophia’s small round leaves with the hairs on them.
Sophia was very calm.
"It is very nice to see you," she said to the scorpion fly.
He didn’t return her greeting but began immediately to suck up the nectar on the ends of the hairs.
Suddenly the scorpion fly began to jerk his legs frantically. He twisted and turned and bent his long jointed body in all directions. But, as he twisted and turned, he only slipped further and further down into the sticky nectar. Then Lydia saw the hairs on the leaf curl up slowly and cover his body. She could hear his frantic buzzing as they closed over him. Soon the buzzing stopped and the scorpion fly disappeared altogether.
"You ate him!" Lydia said, "You ate the scorpion fly!"
Sophia did not reply.
"Why did you tell me I shouldn’t eat aphids when you eat flies? You are a hypocrite!"
Sophia lowered her head. The little crown of flowers drooped. "I thought if I told you," she said, "you would be afraid of me. I thought you would fly away and never come back. I am so lonely here in this bog. No one ever comes to see me."
"Small wonder," Lydia said, "You eat them!"
"But I was made to eat flies!"
"And I was made to eat aphids."
"So, we are the same! And you don’t hate me?"
"Not when you’re honest," Lydia said.
Sophia smiled happily.
"Then you will come back! You will come back again to visit me?"
Lydia was silent for a moment, then she said: "Yes.Yes, I will come back to visit you, but I won’t get any closer!"
And, with that, she lifted her little wing flaps, spread out her tiny wings, and flew away home.