Lady bugs- Beneficial Insects of the Garden
Lady bugs or “lady beetles” are an excellent choice for organic pest control for aphids. If you have an aphid problem, then more than likely at some point you will see lady bugs appear, that is unless you are using chemicals. If you’re going to garden organically, do your best to promote an environment which is friendly to beneficial insects.
Lady bugs can eat up to 50 aphids per day and their larvae can eat their weight in aphids per day as well. The trick is to get the population of lady bugs up in the garden enough that they’ll eat up your aphid problem. One way is to purchase lady bugs from the internet. However, be sure to make them at home or they’ll quickly leave and find a better home elsewhere. Almost any shallow blossomed plant will provide the nectar they need for reproduction. For those of you who keep bees, think bee flowers such as yarrow, dandelions, mint, and many other flowering herbs, etc.
If you purchase lady bugs, it’s often more effective if you release them over time during twilight hours. Lady bugs can be stored in the refrigerator, think akin to hibernation. This way you have a chance that they’ll stay long enough to clear up any aphids before they fly off in search of more food. Again, if you provide an environment for breeding you have a chance to keep a few around.
Fortunately, if they have a house, they’ll also eat other soft-bodied insects such as mealy bugs, mites, etc. Nasturtium is an excellent type of flower that lady bugs prefer. Remember to set up an area where there is water. All creatures require water to survive. If the water is in the garden, then your red friends don’t have to go looking for water. Always think food, shelter, and water when releasing insects to your garden.
Lady bugs come in a variety of colors red, orange, black, etc and most often have spots. Lady bugs are easily recognized by their convex shape. They are often found on plants and overwinter in large groups, often under the bark of fallen logs. Like many other insects lady bugs do not taste so good when eaten. This is a natural way they repel predators.
Their young are a larva. Google lady bug larva. They look mighty scary to me! Both the adult beetles and larva eat aphids. The egg, larva, and then pupa stage take about 4-6 weeks to turn into a beetle. Adults lay clusters of 10 to 50 eggs each and have up to six generations per year. Be kind to your beneficial insects, and they’ll be kind to you!