LadybugBugs, bugs, bugs everywhere. The world we live in has a multitude of living creatures. We have every variety of life that can be imagined and some that can’t be. The sizes run from the biggest, whales and elephants, to the smallest, microscopic creatures as small as amoeba. In between are living things such as humans, animals and bugs. Billions upon billions of bugs. Some are deadly to humans and some are beneficial. Some are annoying and some are just plain beautiful.

One that is universally treated, not so much a pest, but as a pleasant part of life, is the Lady Bug. From the time that we are born, ladybugs are treated as a beautiful creature that when seen makes your day a little bit nicer.

The scientific name for ladybugs is “Coccinellidae.”  They are known as lady beetle, lady bird and lady bug. They are in the family of beetles, ranging in size from 0.8 to 18mm, or 1/3 of an inch to almost 3/4 of an inch. Usually they are orange and yellow or scarlet with small black spots on their little round shell. They have wings, black legs and antennae on their heads. Worldwide there are more than 5,000 species of ladybugs. Just the North America there is almost 500 varieties.

In the UK, Ireland and the Southern United States they are called ladybirds, or lady cows. The most astonishing fact is they are insects but not “BUGS.”

Useful Insects

Ladybugs are considered our friends because they eat pests in our gardens, fields and flowering beds. They do this in a very direct way. They lay thousands of eggs within the confines of these fields and when they hatch, they feast on various pests that destroy our crops and orchards. However, when their natural enemies such as wasps are having a down year, certain types of ladybugs can produce major crop damage themselves because they do chomp on leaves of plants. When numbers are normal, they simply feed a little on our plants. But, when they build their numbers rapidly, they can be pests themselves.

Appearance

Most ladybugs have an oval shaped body with 6 legs. Various species could have stripes, spots or no markings at all. Some have the traditional orange and black domes, but others could have solid blacks, browns or grey domes.

Evolution

Since the beginning of time, ladybugs have evolved into many types of species. Some have been known to be pests themselves and some are just good meals for predators. The main predators of ladybugs are wasps, birds, frogs and spiders. Even ants will try to have a snack. Evolution has spawned ladybugs that are hardy, low to the ground, allowing them to cling to vertical surfaces and not be pulled away by their predators without some effort. Their bright colors have also evolved into a discouraging sight for an easy meal.

The first species of ladybugs were introduced into the Americas in the early 1900’s. Farmers brought them here to control the aphids that feast on our crops. But, throughout the world, they are viewed as pests that eat their competitors and become the pests themselves.

In 2011, a study was conducted that shows that Lady Bug populations have dropped by as much as 20%. Some species have grown, such as the 7 spot varieties throughout England. Some species such as the 13 spot have gone into other parts of the world and are flourishing.

Kid Friendly

For many years ladybugs have been known to be the favorites of children throughout the world. They are immortalized in children’s books and stories and even in poems. The popular poem known as “Ladybird, Ladybird” is used by mothers to put their children at ease.

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home

Your house is on fire and your children are gone

All except one, and that's Little Anne

For she has crept under the warming pan.

Many countries around the world consider ladybugs a lucky sign. When seen children are encouraged to make a wish.

Many countries portray ladybugs in popular media such as film, videos and books.

Don’t Buy Ladybugs

Many people with infestations will go out and buy ladybugs as their quick solution to get rid of pests. However, the day after they put them to work, they have a hard time finding even one left. They are programmed by nature to disperse and fly away as soon as their bellies are full. You can cage them in jars and bottles, but they will still disappear quicker than the eye can blink.

However, if you plant pollinating plants in your garden, they will stick around. They love these as food and will stay as long as the food is good. The little harm they do is to nibble on the leaves of your plants.

Lifecycle

Ladybugs have a lifespan of 2 to 3 years. They begin as eggs, moving to larvae, then pupae and then adults. Depending on their environment, they will grow into friendly little flying bundles of joy or become carnivorous species that destroy our crops and orchards.

Alliance Pest Services is your local New Jersey pest control expert.