Known in most countries as ladybugs, these lovelies are not bugs. Scientists list them as beetles, so their proper names are lady beetles or ladybird beetles.
Lady bugs are found in the Coccinellidae family, class (Insecta), and order (Coleoptera), of which there are approximately 5000 species of them .
The lifespan of ladybugs is one to two years, though they may live longer out in the wild.
Eggs are laid on the underside of leaves, in or near the colonies of aphids and other soft-bodied insects. This is to ensure the larvae have plenty of food when they first hatch.
The larvae eat and thrive in a span of 21 to 30 days, and then, they pupate. After that, they emerge as adults in not more than 15 days, depending on climate and species, and are ready to mate not long after.
What are they good for? Most are quite beneficial to people, whether they are farmers, gardeners, or just the ordinary.
They are the first line of defense for anyone interested in eco-friendly ways to rid their garden, field, or orchard of pests with their voracious appetites for many different species of pests.
1. Keep Away Aphids
Aphids are the prime source of food for ladybugs.
A single ladybird insect, from larvae to adults will consume nearly 1000 aphids over its lifetime .
However, you should not introduce them before you see aphids because they won’t stay. There won’t be anything for them to eat.
Ladybird beetles are great little pollinators.
They like to feed on pollen and nectar. As a result, while roving among flowers, pollen tends to stick to them, which then fertilizes the flowers.
3. Kill Spider Mites
The smell of the mites, along with the damage they do feeding in herds help the lady beetles find them. They then crawl up to them and start eating.
Just one ladybug can eat up to 100 mites a day.
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri aka Crypt or Mealybug Destroyer are the names the species that specializes in destroying mealybugs are known by.
The adult female lady bug lays her eggs among the colonies of mealybugs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat everything they can find.
5. Corn Borer Control
In a single day, a lady beetle can eat up to 60 corn borer eggs. However, they leave the eating of the larvae and adults to other predator insects.
6. Colorado Potato Beetle
Ladybird beetles eat the eggs and larvae of the Colorado potato beetle wherever they find them. Therefore, they’re great at preventing a potato beetle infestation before it begins.
7. Beautify the Garden
The lady beetle’s appearance, with its vibrant colors and gorgeous wings, brings additional beauty to any garden it’s living in.
8. Whitefly Control
Delphastus catalinae is a species that specializes in controlling whiteflies.
160 whitefly eggs or more per day is a lot for one little beetle, but it does it. It can also consume 700 larvae during its lifetime.
9. Lace Bugs
Ladybugs are among the natural enemies of lace bugs. Utilize them to control all aspects of an infestation.
This is another insect they are effective at controlling. Release these beauties in your garden to help keep thrips populations under control.
How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden
You can buy ladybugs locally or online for your garden, but the consensus is that attracting them is far better.
Buying them doesn’t guarantee they will feed because of the stress of moving.
Attracting them also ensures they will dig into the feast you’re providing them. Here are a few ways:
Plant Nectar and Pollen Plants
What attracts lady bugs? Grow flowers and herbs that have white and yellow blooms and flat leaves. The flat leaves give them a place to land and the flowers provide pollen and nectar.
Some plants and flowers that attract ladybugs include marigold, angelica, calendula, yarrow, chives, feverfew, and dill.
Provide Plenty to Eat
If you don’t have enough pest insects already in the garden, you can plant some trap plants to draw in aphids — their favorite food.
Traps plants include marigold, radish, kale, sweet cabbage, roses, arugula, and nasturtium.
Quench Their Thirst
Place bowls of water with pebbles inside in and around your garden. The stones give them a place to safely rest while they drink.
Be Careful with Pesticides
Synthetic pesticides will kill lady beetles and other helpful garden bugs if sprayed directly on them.
Natural pesticides should also be used with caution. Depending upon what it is, some natural ones will, at worst, kill them and best, drive them away from your garden, so be careful.
Lady beetles range in color and size, with some mistaken for other types of beetles.
They mostly have red, orange, or yellow bodies with black spots, but they can also range in color from solid black to brown.
Besides, they can possess spots, stripes, or just be plain. They are tiny (between .03 to .7 inches) and round in shape with black on their heads, legs, and antennae.
Additionally, ladybugs have three natural defense mechanisms to keep predators from eating them.
- One is to play dead. They will pull up their legs and fall to the ground, playing dead to fool their attackers.
- The second is its color. Helpful predators such as birds have learned that certain colors mean unpleasant taste or unsafe to eat.
- The last is the toxic fluid they release to protect themselves when provoked. This liquid is foul-smelling and tastes bad, so predators will stay far.
Whatever name you call them by, these cute little beetles are not only helpful to have in your garden; they are amongst the more colorful.
Appearing in early Spring, they herald in the season as it begins to warm, leaving their hiding places in buildings and the like to begin mating, laying eggs, and, of course, eating.
By growing plants for ladybugs and following the other steps above, you can attract these helpful bugs to your garden.