Ladybugs, Ladybugs, Come to My GardenLadybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybirds, can be a gardenerís best friend. The ladybug's bright coloring brings welcomed cheer to the garden, as well as helping with pest control. Since medieval times, ladybugs have been valued by farmers all over the world. Many believe that the ladybug was divinely sent to free crops of insect pests. In fact, that is how the ladybug got its name. People dedicated the bug to the Virgin Mary and therefore called it "The Bug of our Lady", which was eventually shortened to the present name "ladybug".
Adult ladybugs are usually oval or domed shaped and have red wings, yellow wings or shades and variations of these colors. The number of black spots can range from no spots to 15 spots and they are typically about one quarter inch in size or smaller.
The length of the life cycle of a ladybug varies depending upon temperature, humidity, and food supply. Usually the life cycle from egg to adult is about three to four weeks, and up to six weeks during the cooler spring months. During the spring the adult female ladybug can lay up to three hundred eggs in an aphid colony. The eggs normally hatch in two to five days. The newly hatched larvae feed on aphids for up to three weeks and then enter the pupae stage. About one week later, the adult ladybug emerges. There can be as many as six generations of ladybugs hatched in a year.
The ladybug enjoys popularity around the world. These pretty insects have long been considered a symbol of good luck and fortune because of their ability to eat an enormous amount of aphids. One ladybug can eat as many as 50 to 60 aphids per day. Aphids (also called plant lice) are herbivores and are one of the worst groups of pests on plants. They feed in colonies and damage plants by sucking the juice out of the leaves, stems, or roots. While aphids feed, they damage plant tissue creating a loss of plant fluids and the photosynthetic tissue needed to produce energy for plant growth. Some plants will show no adverse response to aphids, while others react with twisted, curled or swollen leaves or stems. Aphids also transmit many plant diseases from one plant to another.
Apart from aphids, ladybugs eat a variety of other insects and larvae including white flies, mealy bugs, spider mites, and other types of soft-bodied insects. They also require a source of pollen for food and for that reason are attracted to certain types of plants. Their preferred plants have umbrella shaped flowers such as dill, fennel, angelica, tansy, caraway, cilantro, yarrow, and wild carrot. Other plants that attract ladybugs include cosmos (especially the white ones), dandelions, coreopsis, and scented geraniums.
If your garden does not have adequate space to plant ladybug attracting plants, you can purchase ladybugs from numerous websites on the internet and most nurseries. Before releasing them into your garden, here are a few tips to help ensure that the ladybugs stay where you want them:
To further promote ladybug populations, consider cutting back on spraying insecticides in your garden. Ladybugs are sensitive to most synthetic insecticides and if the majority of their food source is gone, they will not lay their eggs and therefore will not continue to populate.
Here are some interesting ladybug facts:
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