Beneficial Insect: Ladybug
Welcome ladybugs into your garden not only for their cute color, shape and pattern, but for their pest-eating capabilities.
Ladybugs are 1/4” long with rounded bodies and black spots. The wing covers are bright orange to red and there are white markings on the thorax. There are over 450 species of ladybugs in North America.
They can complete their lifecycle, from egg to adult, in as little as 4-7 weeks. Most species of ladybugs over winter as adults in leaf litter, under tree bark and even in homes and other structures.
Pests They Control:
Adult ladybugs and their larvae help rid your garden of: aphids, asparagus beetle larvae, Colorado potato beetle, lace bugs, mealybugs, Mexican bean beetle larvae, scale, spider mites, whiteflies, and eggs of several other insects.
How to Attract and Keep Them:
- Provide them a diversity of plants with clusters of many small flowers. This will help sustain them when pest numbers are low. Many species of adult ladybugs consume pollen and nectar in addition to pest insects (especially before their winter hibernation). Choose: bugleweed, butterfly weed, cilantro, coreopsis, dandelion, dill, fennel, hairy vetch, oregano, Queen Ann’s Lace, thyme, and yarrow
- Leave weeds such as dandelions, wild carrot and yarrow between crop plants.
- Purchase ladybugs and release them into your garden. Be aware that there is no guarantee that they will stick around. Release them in the evening directly onto pest-infested plants that you have thoroughly watered beforehand.
- A single ladybug can consume up to 5000 aphids in its brief lifetime.
- Their bright coloration serves as a warning to potential predators. When threatened they release a noxious liquid from their leg joints, sending a clear message about their taste.
Source: CCF staff, Good Bug, Bad Bug by Walliser 2008, The Organic Gardener’s Handbook by Ellis and Bradley 1996