All About Ladybugs
We’ve rounded up the top 15 questions about ladybugs and answered them for you. When you’re done reading, you’ll know all about ladybugs!
Today I want to talk about the ladybug and some fascinating facts about them. But first, who thinks ladybugs are cute?
The Top 15 Questions About Ladybugs Answered!
Ladybugs for Pest Control?
One of the first of the top 15 questions about ladybugs that we answered was, “can ladybugs be used for pest control?”
I found a few aphids in my garden the other day, so I wanted to research natural pest control and see if I could get rid of them before they hurt my plants.
Ladybugs and praying mantis came up as being voracious aphid eaters. Did you know that ladybugs can eat up to 50 aphids per day? Talk about pest control!
When you buy them, the ladybugs are alive and in a carton. You get hundreds. On the other hand, you get one praying mantis egg in a little bag.
I think the ladybugs won out by sheer numbers. They are so cheerful, but the mantis is cute too, once it hatches!
Ladybugs In A Container?
So, after my research, I got some ladybugs from the hardware store. They were in a container with holes in the top. You could feel their little feet through the holes as they walked upside down on the lid!
We let them go at dusk in the garden to see if we can try to control the aphids. It was really fun to watch them spread out over the plants!
I made a YouTube video to share the experience with you. You can watch it here.
Where Did The Name Ladybug Come From?
This is another of the top 15 questions about ladybugs that we answered for you. “Where did the name ladybug come from?”
The name “ladybug” originated in Europe.
During the middle ages, European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary really prayed when pests began eating their crops. Ladybugs came and wiped out the pest invaders.
Because of their help, the farmers named them “beetle of our lady” which has been shortened to “lady beetle,” “ladybug.”
Today, they’re called ladybugs in North America and ladybirds in Britain.
In North America, we have the 7-spotted ladybugs. These are bright red or orange with black bodies. There are 3 black spots on each side and one in the middle. They have a black head with white patches on either side.
What Are Ladybugs?
Is it a bug or a beetle?
Did you know that ladybugs are not really bugs but beetles? They belong to the Coleoptera order which includes all beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae).
There are nearly 6,000 different species of ladybugs over the world, and 450 of them are found in North America. Amazingly, California has 175 species alone!
Ladybug beetles are small and rounded insects with colorful wings. Their wings can be red, orange, brown, or yellow. They can have spots, stripes, or other patterns. The most familiar ladybug is red with black spots.
Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots?
Ladybugs have round, dome-shaped bodies and a protective covering over the wings. The spots and patterns are usually seen on their wings. Their legs, head, and antennae are black.
Despite folklore, the number of spots will not tell you the ladybug’s age. Her secret is safe, which is good since a lady never reveals her age!
Ladybug predators include birds, frogs, spiders, dragonflies, and wasps. The spots and bright colors act as a deterrent and protective device. Plus, they can secrete a foul, smelly fluid from their joints if disturbed.
To protect themselves, ladybugs might play dead and secrete the unappetizing fluid that predators don’t like.
Most ladybugs are beneficial predatory insects in both adult and larvae stages. They primarily feed on aphids but will also eat other pests like mites, small insects, and insect eggs.
It’s been shown that just one ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.
Are Ladybugs Lucky?
The website Ladybug Planet says that “their bright and colorful look along with their happy-go-lucky travel means living life without boundaries.“
Ladybugs are considered to be lucky. According to folklore, if you see one, good fortune and prosperity will come to you.
Here are some of the folk tales:
- When a ladybug lands on you, it’s considered a sign of good luck since you’ll be granted more patience and fewer burdens.
- Or if you count the spots of the ladybug who lands on you, it will indicate the number of months before you find true love.
- Some say that when you see a ladybug, look at its spots. The darker they are, the greater amount of fortune you’re likely to receive. You’ll never look at a ladybug the same again!
- Perhaps the spots are a reminder from the universe to count the blessings you already have around you. Stop and think of as many ways you are blessed as the ladybug has spots. Then they say any luck and good fortune will be bestowed upon you.
- If you see a ladybug who has no spots, it means you will have an imminent meeting of a true love or a rekindling of an old love. If you’re already with your true love, the ladybug with no spots is a reminder to maintain your love affair with that person.
- Here’s a ladybug I saw the other day that had no spots. I’m with my true love now, so I guess I had better start to show that I appreciate him!
- If a ladybug bites you, take it as a sign to lighten up and take life less seriously. This will bring love and luck back into your life.
Are Ladybugs Against Violence?
- And lastly, the ladybug street tile is a symbol against “senseless violence” in the Netherlands. It’s recognized as a sign of universal protest against violence.
- We should all put out ladybug signs and tiles! Perhaps wear ladybug pins! I found some cute ladybug pins here available on Amazon.
Are Ladybugs Beneficial?
Yes! Ladybugs are very beneficial to the gardener and farmer. Native to Europe, they were brought to North America in mid-1900’s to control aphid populations
Then you might ask: “Why are ladybugs beneficial?”
Ladybugs are beneficial because they eat garden pests that can eat plants. The adults eat bugs that can damage and destroy crops. They’ll eat aphids, mealybugs, thrips, scale insects, spider mites, caterpillars, insect larvae, insect eggs, and other beetles.
They can eat up to 50 aphids per day, 5,000 in their lifetime!
But, they’ll also eat pollen, nectar, berries, and sap to survive if they can’t find any insects.
Though they can survive on pollen and nectar, a supply of aphids is necessary for egg production.
Where Do Ladybugs Lay Eggs?
And, planning ahead, they lay their eggs near aphid colonies so the larvae can eat aphids too.
The eggs are laid in clusters or rows on the underside of leaf, usually near an aphid colony.
Eggs are shaped like footballs and are yellow or orange in color. They’re laid in circular clusters of 3-20 on the underside of leaves. Females can lay 10-50 eggs per day.
Are Those Tiny Alligators?
Once born, the larvae will consume 400 aphids each at a rate of 50-60 aphids per day. If food is short, they will cannibalize each other.
The larvae look like small red and black alligators. They grow quickly, shedding their skin several times. Larvae live three weeks before pupating.
Once the larvae reach their full size, they attach to a leaf by their tail and a pupa is formed. Depending on the temperature, it will take three days to two weeks until the pupa emerges as an adult ladybug.
Within a single year, you can have five to six generations of ladybugs, as the average time from egg to adult takes only about 3-4 weeks. And the cycle begins again.
What Is A Ladybug’s Life Like?
Ladybugs can live for one to two years and will grow to .3 to .4 inches long.
Searching for food all day from dawn to dusk, ladybugs will eat 50-60 aphids per day. It has been shown that one ladybug can consume as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.
Aphids are the preferred meal, but ladybugs will eat other harmful insects and larvae including scales, thrips, mealy bugs, chinch bugs, leaf-hoppers, mites, whitefly, and various types of soft-bodied insects.
Ladybugs are active during the spring and fall. When it gets colder, they want to hibernate. You can find them in warm, secluded places that include inside the house or outbuildings, rotting logs, under rocks… Hibernating colonies can contain thousands of ladybugs!
How Can You Attract Ladybugs To Your Garden?
Now we know what ladybugs are good for and how beneficial ladybugs are to the gardener and farmer, how can we attract them to our gardens?
- Plant their favorite flowers. Ladybugs need pollen and nectar. They’re attracted to specific types of plants.
- Some of their favorites include plants with umbrella-shaped flowers like fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot, and yarrow.
- Others include cosmos, coreopsis, scented geraniums, and dandelions.
- Keep moisture levels high in your gardens.
- Beneficial insects require lots of moisture and water to drink.
- This is easier if you keep your plants and flowers planted closer together.
- Eliminate insecticides.
- Ladybugs are sensitive to insecticides, and if their food source of aphids is gone, they cannot lay eggs in your garden.
- They have to have a source of aphids for the eggs to eat once they are hatched.
Can Ladybugs Be Destructive?
Ladybugs are generally revered for their ability to control pests in the garden. One of the top 15 questions about ladybugs that we answered is: are there any destructive ladybugs out there?
But there are also some destructive ladybugs you should know about which will consume and kill plants, harm dogs, and cause damage to your home.
Three of these destructive ladybugs are the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis Pallas), the Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) and the squash beetle (Epilachna borealis). They are destructive in both the adult and larvae stages.
You definitely don’t want these three around!
The Asian Lady Beetle
- The Asian lady beetle can be aggressive, invade your home, and harm your dogs.
- They secrete a foul-smelling yellowish liquid that can stain walls and furniture.
- Asian lady beetles will congregate in large numbers and enter your home to overwinter.
- You can tell them apart from the friendly ladybug by the “M” shaped marking behind the bug’s head.
- If you find these beetles, remove them from inside your home ASAP! They multiply quickly!
Two Other Bad Guys
The next two we talk about are destructive pests in both the adult and larvae stages that will consume the crops they are named after.
- The Mexican bean beetle is quite variable in color, ranging from bright red to rusty brown to golden yellow.
- The larvae are usually yellow, spiny, and shaped like a pill.
- You can recognize the Mexican bean beetle adult which has orange bodies with eight black spots on each wing cover.
- They can be controlled using parasitoid wasps or short-duration systemic insecticides.
- Early detection is key!
- The squash beetle is yellow with seven large black spots on each wing and four small black spots on its “neck.”
- The larvae are bright yellow, pill-shaped with spines.
- You can recognize the squash beetle adult which has orange bodies with seven black spots.
- They can be controlled using parasitoid wasps or short-duration systemic insecticides.
- Early detection is key!
The larvae of both the Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle are destructive. It’s easy to differentiate them from ladybug larvae, as they are both have yellow bodies and look totally different than other ladybug larvae.
Be on the alert for these three bad guys. You want to stop them as soon as you see them before they destroy your garden and crops.
Can You Purchase Ladybugs?
If you don’t have ladybugs naturally, you can also purchase ladybugs.
They’ll arrive in some kind of container. Mine came in a plastic container with a lid.
Keep them in a cool place, even in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to release them into your gardens. It is recommended that you release them late in the day or early evening.
How Do You Release Ladybugs?
Ladybugs are active during the day from dawn to dusk. They hide and sleep during the night.
Plan on releasing the ladybugs late in the day or early morning. They won’t fly at night and will have time to settle into your garden before morning when they will start looking for food.
Sprinkle or irrigate the area before releasing them, so the ladybugs can easily find a drink of water.
When releasing them, gently scatter them or spread them out so each ladybug can find food immediately. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they will scatter looking for food!
The ladybugs will eat until dark, then start gathering in groups under leaves for the night. Sleep tight!
Here’s a picture that I took the early next day after I released the ladybugs.
The next morning, I found my ladybugs all over the garden. Some were walking on plant stems, some were gathered together under leaves, and some were eating pests.
They all look happy in their new home. Ladybugs are beneficial to my garden. I hope they stay.
Ladybug, Fly Away Home
Remember this nursery rhyme?
“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one, and that’s Little Anne
For she has crept under the warming pan.”
I remember singing this rhyme anytime I had a ladybug fly away from my hand.
It always made me wonder where her home was, and kind of sad that all the children were gone. I wonder where she went! Let’s hope she’s flying to our gardens!
I hope we answered the top 15 questions you had about ladybugs for you. Ladybugs are beneficial to the gardener and the farmer.
Now you know all about the beneficial ladybug, do you have any in your gardens?
Are you planning on buying some and placing them into your gardens?
Let me know in the comments.
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