'I found one!': P.E.I. woman scatters hundreds of painted ladybug rocks on beach

A P.E.I. woman scatters hundreds of her painted ladybug rocks on a local beach, much to the delight of beachcombers who find the hidden treasures.

Beachcombers delighted to find the individually handcrafted stones

Karen Tuplin of Myrick Shore, P.E.I., estimates she has scattered about 1,800 of her painted rocks at the nearby beach this summer. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Karen Tuplin has been delighting beachcombers in western P.E.I. all summer with her painted ladybug rocks. 

She fills her bag with about 25 "bug-eyed" rocks and scatters them along the beach and dunes by her home in Myrick Shore, near Tignish. 

Meet the ladybug lady from P.E.I. who's been scattering her creations on a local beach

4 years ago
Meet the ladybug lady from P.E.I. who's been scattering her creations on a local beach 0:54

"I walk the beach every day," she said. "It's good exercise when you carry a bag of rocks."

Karen Tuplin places her painted rocks on the sand. She sets them above the high tide mark to keep them from being washed away.

After carefully setting the rocks on the sand, Tuplin heads back to her patio chair.

When the wind is right, she said she can actually hear the squeals of discovery.

'I've heard screams. "I found one! I found one! Look what I found!'"- Karen Tuplin

"I've heard screams. 'I found one! I found one! Look what I found!'"

Tuplin, who manages a local bakery, started painting rocks five years ago, setting them in her garden. But when she held a yard sale last year, people seemed more interested in the painted rocks in her garden than her yard sale.

"So I opened up my garden beds and let people have them. Then I knew there was a fascination or something with them."

Karen Tuplin does most of her painting in her living room, surrounded by tubes of acrylic paint. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Over the past winter, Tuplin painted hundreds of ladybug rocks. In June, she began scattering them on the beach for people to find — similar to the Easter egg hunts she organized when her children were younger. 

"I always did things with my kids when they were little and I think I'm going through a little withdrawal," she said.

Some people have even referred to her as the Easter Bunny.

'Instead of eggs, it's bugs'

"Instead of eggs, it's bugs," Tuplin laughed.

At first, no one knew who was placing the mysterious colourful creations on the beach. 

"I got caught a couple of times," she said. "A few people were watching me go and then they'd walk to that place and, 'Oh, there's a ladybug.'"  

Karen Tuplin likes to make it a bit of a challenge to find her ladybugs — like and Easter egg hunt, she says. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Tuplin said she'll scatter her last batch of the summer this weekend. She estimates she's placed about 1,800 painted rocks on the beach so far.

Maxine Barbour of Alberton, P.E.I., has stumbled across a few.

'Really cute'

"They're awesome, they're really cute," she said.

"The amount of work that goes into making one. They're amazing."

Karen Tuplin combs the beach to find hard pepples to paint. She doesn't use the red sandstone because it crumbles too easily. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Tuplin does most of her painting in her living room, surrounded by tubes of acrylic paint. She first applies three or four layers of a base coat. Every bug has its own unique design.

It takes time, but for Tuplin, it's worth it.

'Makes me feel good'

"It makes me feel good that somebody is happy over something that I've done, and it made it really nice when they never knew who it was. It was kind of that unseen little treat."

Painting and scattering the rocks during her daily walks on the beach is good for the body and the mind. 

Karen Tuplin's deck is covered with dozens of her newly-painted, unique ladybug rocks that are ready to be scattered on the nearby beach. (Pat Martel)

Tuplin is also pleased to see others out in the fresh air, especially kids.

"There's so many Playstation games, Xboxes that keep kids in the house and confined to a seat," Tuplin said.

"So why not give them a little bit of a boost to help them want to go and walk the beach and they might find more than just ladybugs."  


Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning where he was a writer-broadcaster and producer. He joined the web team recently to share his passion for great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He retired in Oct. 2019.