Ladybirds are one of the beneficial garden insects. They appear as small-sized beetles with spots on their backs. They come in different colors and have a 4 stage life cycle. You might be familiar with these insects since they love gardens where they feed on nectar and other insects like aphids and mites.
Children love collecting these beetles, too, as they are lovely and do not cause any harm. Some people also associate them with good luck and even keep them as pets.
Types of Ladybirds Found In the Garden
1. Two Spot Ladybird
The two-spot ladybird is one of the most common ladybirds. It can either be black with two red spots or red with two black spots on its back. It’s a favorite for gardeners as it feeds largely on aphids.
2. Cream Spot Ladybird
The cream spot ladybird is maroon-colored, with cream spots. It feeds on aphids and is mostly found on trees.
3. Kidney Spot Ladybird
The kidney spot ladybird is black with two spots that are either red or orange. It is mostly found on the backs of trees as it feeds on insect scales.
4. Fourteen Spot Ladybird
The 14-spot ladybird is yellow with dark spots. Its bright color protects it from predators, by giving them a notion that it has a bad taste. It has a total of 14 spots, with varying shapes.
The egg stage is the first stage of a ladybird life cycle. Ladybirds lay their eggs after mating, and a single ladybird can lay 10-50 eggs. Some of the eggs are usually fertile, while others are not.
Ladybirds lay the eggs on a plant that has suitable food for the newly hatched ladybirds. The food may be aphids, scales, or any other type of insect that ladybirds feed on. The newly hatched ladybirds will feed on the infertile eggs that did not hatch if the insects are not available.
The eggs hatch into larvae. This may take up to 10 days, depending on various factors like weather conditions. The larvae don’t look very friendly, and you can easily confuse them to be harmful insects.
Larvae are heavy feeders and eat aphids, mites, and other insects, together with their eggs. The larvae are usually elongated and have six legs. In many species, it usually has colored spots.
After the larva attains its full size, it turns into a pupa. The pupa has the same size as that of a fully mature ladybird. It has a layer that protects it until it matures to a fully grown adult. It stays in this stage for up to 15 days.
A ladybird that has just emerged from the pupa stage usually has a pale color. It is usually susceptible to prey since its exoskeleton has not hardened enough to offer it enough protection. As it matures fully, the exoskeleton hardens, and it develops bright colors.
Benefits of Ladybirds in the Garden
Ladybirds feed on various garden insects that may cause harm to your plants. They are very beneficial to organic farmers, as they act as natural insect controllers. They also lay their eggs around these insects’ habitats so that their larvae can feed on them too, when they hatch. These insects include
• Spider mites
Releasing Ladybirds into the Garden
Is releasing ladybirds into your garden a good decision? Yes. It is. If there are no ladybirds in your garden, getting them from another place is an ideal choice.
Various stores sell live ladybirds to gardeners. However, there are various tips you should follow keenly so that these beneficial beetles will remain in your garden. If you don’t follow them, the ladybirds might run away.
1. Your Plants Should Have Aphids
Although ladybirds feed on different insects, aphids are their favorite. The most popular type of ladybird, the convergent ladybird, feeds solely on aphids. If you release them into a garden with no aphids, they might disappear to other areas.
2. Release Them in the Evening or Morning
Release the beetles when the sun is not shining, so that they don’t fly away. Don’t release all of them at the same time. Instead, release them in groups, to increase the chances of them remaining in your garden.
3. Provide Water for the Ladybirds
Ladybirds require water for survival. Install a water fountain in your garden or use a shallow water saucer. Change the water frequently, so that the fountain or saucer will not turn to be a mosquito breeding area.
Are Ladybirds Harmful To Humans And Pets?
Ladybirds are not harmful to humans. There are no known diseases that are transmitted from ladybirds to human beings. However, they might cause allergic reactions to some people.
The Asian ladybird is particularly known to cause reactions like breathing problems and sneezing.
However, the beetles can be harmful to pets. When dogs feed on them, it develops some signs like
• Not pooping
If this happens, you can contact your veterinarian for further checkup.
What Can You Do To Prevent Ladybirds From Getting Into The House?
Ladybirds are beneficial to the garden, and that’s where they should remain. However, in the cold months, they might move to the house in search of shelter. To prevent them from getting into your house, do the following:
• Seal cracks that the beetles may use to get into the house
• Plant lavender plants around the house, as they repel the insects.
What Else Do Ladybirds Feed On?
Besides feeding on destructive garden insects, ladybirds feed on nectar from different flowers like chive, dill, angelica, and cosmos. Grow the plants in your garden so that your ladybirds will not fly searching for food when there are no more insects to feed on.
What Might Make Ladybirds Fly Away From The Garden?
Ladybirds will not live in a garden where there is the use of organic pesticides. They will fly away immediately you spray these pesticides on your garden. The chemicals may also kill the ladybirds.
Without a doubt, ladybirds are good for your garden. Use ladybirds as a natural pest control method instead of using organic insecticides containing harmful chemical products. The natural control method is also cheaper than chemical control.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ladybirds are not poisonous to humans. They can only cause allergic reactions to some people. This rarely happens, though.
Ladybirds feed on insects like aphids, scales, and mealybugs. They also feed on flower nectar.
Ladybirds find their way to houses mostly during cold months. They are usually attracted to light-colored houses and get in through cracks and holes.
If your garden ladybirds have gotten into your house, they may be a nuisance. To get rid of them, use a ladybird trap to get rid of them.
Ladybirds have enemies. Some predators like ants, tree frogs, wasps, and dragonflies may feed on them.
Ladybirds are beneficial to a garden as they feed on destructive insects. Organic farmers use them to control insects instead of using organic insecticides.