GROWING GUIDE: Beneficial Bug Spotlight, Ladybugs

Ladybugs, also known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are nature’s little gardeners, keeping our plants healthy and happy. Ladybugs have four life stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. The larvae can look distressing as they resemble little black alligators with orange spots or stripes. They are the “good guys” that will become the next generation of flying ladybugs. But how exactly do these colorful insects benefit our environment? Let’s dive in!


Plant Protectors:

  • Aphid Annihilators: Ladybugs have a voracious appetite for aphids, tiny sap-sucking insects that can devastate gardens. A single ladybug can munch on up to 50 aphids a day, and even more in its lifetime!

  • Pest Buffet: Their diet goes beyond aphids. Ladybugs enjoy a smorgasbord of other soft-bodied pests like mealybugs, scales, mites, and beetle eggs, keeping these populations in check.


    Balancing The Ecosystem:

  • Predatory Power: By controlling pest populations, ladybugs help maintain a healthy balance in the ecosystem. This reduces the need for harmful pesticides and promotes biodiversity.

  • Pollinator Power: While their primary focus is on pest control, ladybugs also play a role in pollination as they flit from flower to flower.


Habitat Haven:

Ladybugs can be found in a variety of habitats including:

  • Meadows

  • Forests

  • Gardens

  • Orchards

    They seek shelter in places like:

  • Underneath leaves

  • Cracks in bark

  • Tall grasses


Fun Facts:

  • Lucky Charm: In many cultures, ladybugs are considered symbols of good luck and fortune.

  • Hibernation Station: During the winter, ladybugs huddle together in large groups to stay warm.

  • Color Coordination: The brighter a ladybug’s spots, the more bitter it tastes to predators, giving them a warning.

  • Not All Lovely: While most ladybugs are beneficial, a few species can actually be pests themselves, feeding on crops or fruits.


Bringing In The Ladybugs:

  • Plant Power: Planting a variety of flowering plants can attract ladybugs to your garden.

    • Asters

    • Calendula

    • Cilantro

    • Coreopsis

    • Cosmos

    • Coneflower

    • Dandelions

    • Geraniums

    • Garlic

    • Marigolds

    • Milkweed

    • Sunflowers

    • Tansies

    • Yarrow

    • Zinnias

  • Skip the Sprays: Avoid using pesticides in your garden, as these can harm ladybugs along with the pests.

  • Buggy Bonanza: You can even purchase ladybugs to release in your garden, although they may fly away in search of a larger food source.

By providing a welcoming habitat and avoiding harmful chemicals, you can encourage these beneficial insects to take up residence in your garden and help you keep your plants healthy and thriving!