Organic gardeners don’t use pesticides or other chemical sprays so when this flying bug eater arrives in their garden they are overjoyed. In fact so efficient is the ladybug in controlling their pests that many make efforts to encourage the ladies to take up residence. I found this article by Arzeena Hamir over at Pioneer Thinking. After explaining how to identify the different varieties of ladybug she gives some tips on how to attract them into your garden.
Of all the insects in the garden, the ladybug is probably the most easily recognized. Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybirds, are a gardener?s best friend. Not only do they feed on insect pests, especially aphids, but their bright coloring also brings cheer into the garden.
Attracting them into your garden requires some planning but can help immensely with your pest control. However, if you just don?t have the space to plant the types of plants that ladybugs like, releasing commercially bought ladybugs can help you clean up infested plants while you work to establish your own population.
Adult lady beetles are usually oval or domed shaped, and can range in colour from red to orange. The number of black markings can also range anywhere from no spots to 15 spots. Some species are even solid black or black with a red spot (the Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle).
The young, larval form of the ladybug is often less recognized. They tend to resemble tiny, six-legged alligators, blue-black in colour with orange spots. Often, gardeners unknowingly squish or spray the larval form of the ladybug, not knowing what a benefit they are to the garden.
Both adults and larvae feed on many different soft-bodied insects but aphids are their main food source. One larva will eat about 400 aphids during its development and single adult can eat a whopping 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. In addition, they will also eat other insects such as mealybugs and spider mites as well as the eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetle and European Corn Borer.