Carroll County Grow It Eat It Team Announces! Watch Out Aphids – The Lady Bugs are Coming, The Lady Bugs are Coming!

Pictured are two Ladybug larva taken April 26, 2012 at the
Univ. of Md Extension “Grow It Eat It”
Public Demonstration Garden”in Westminster, MD.

Just a few of the many interesting factoids regarding one of our most beneficial insects – Lady Bugs (Coccinellidae)

1. Why are ladybugs considered a “beneficial” insect? 
A. Ladybugs feed on aphids and other soft bodied insects that feed on plants. The ladybug feeds on these pests as the adult ladybug and as the larva. One ladybug can eat as many as 50 aphids a day. Now, that’s a hungry lady!

2. How did the ladybug get its name? 
A. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, insects were destroying the crops, so the Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon the Ladybugs came, ate the plant-destroying pests and saved the crops! The farmers began calling the ladybugs “The Beetles of Our Lady”, and they eventually became known as “Lady Beetles”! The red wings represented the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows. They didn’t differentiate between males and females.
3. Are all ladybugs girls? 
A. No. There are boy ladybugs and girl ladybugs. It’s almost impossible for the average person to tell them apart. But here are some clue that might help. First, females are usually larger than males. Second, if you observe one ladybug riding atop another ladybug, they are in the process of mating. A male ladybug will grab the female’s elytra (hard wings) and holds on tight. An entomologist (bug scientist) can see the difference between males and females under a microscope.
4. What are boy ladybugs called? 
A. Boy ladybugs are called ladybugs, too.
5. What are ladybug babies called? 
A. Ladybug babies are the larva. They look like little black and orange alligators with small spikes. 
6.  Can I keep a ladybug as a temporary pet? 

A. Keeping a ladybug as a pet to observe will be fun. You can house your ladybug in a bug box or terrarium. Keep the foliage moist, or place a damp paper towel inside so the ladybug can get a drink. You can feed your ladybug moistened raisins or other sweet, non-acidic fruits. This will help maintain their fat reserves until you are ready to release the ladybug in spring. You can even watch the entire life cycle with a ladybug rearing kit where you get to watch the baby ladybug larvae grow and turn into adult ladybugs. 

7. Do the spots tell you how old they are? 
A. No. Different ladybugs have different numbers of spots. Some have no spots while some have as many as twenty four. Ladybugs generally complete their life cycle within one year. The spots are with them all their life. They don’t get more spots as they get older, nor do they lose spots.

2 Comments on “Carroll County Grow It Eat It Team Announces! Watch Out Aphids – The Lady Bugs are Coming, The Lady Bugs are Coming!

  1. Thanks for the great info. if we want to purchase some ladybugs online to add them in our backyard to help with aphids…are they any requirements we should follow? And do you have recommend any good websites that sell them?

    Thanks for your feed back!

  2. Several species of lady bird beetles are native to MD. There is no need to buy them; they will come find your aphids. Plus, purchased beetles often disperse from your garden instead of making it their new home.

    Adults and larvae eat aphids but adults also feed on nectar and pollen so plant a bed of some of these beautiful flowering plants to attract and conserve the lady bird beetles in your area:
    mountain mint, anise hyssop, thyme, oregano, basil, dill, yarrow, aster, marigold, zinnia, alyssum, phlox, bee balm, milkweeds, borage, salvias.

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