Over 450 species of ladybugs thrive throughout the United States. Commonly called the lady beetle, it consumes garden pests, such as aphids. One ladybug will consume approximately 5,000 aphids during its lifespan, according to the University of Kentucky.
The red coloration of the ladybug discourages birds or small mammals from consuming it. The small beetle emits a noxious odor and is considered unpalatable.
The ladybug lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in locations that have a high aphid population so the young larva will have an abundant food supp ply when the eggs hatch. The larva will spend weeks consuming insects and than pupate into an adult ladybug.
Most species of ladybugs lay several generations of eggs in one season.
In certain areas of the Pacific Northwest, large populations of the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) have become established due to an introduction of the bugs in the 1980’s by the United States Department of Agriculture as a predator species which they hoped would work as a biological control mechanism against soft bodied pest insects. The lady beetle has thrived in the region but it seeks out shelter during the cold winters months. Unfortunately, large populations of the lady beetle often begin to inhabit the interior walls of buildings or other structures where they are protected from the elements and have a bit of warmth. Home owners find the huge quantities of insects distasteful but they should not be killed because of their benefits to the environment.
Homeowners can seal up all cracks or entry points into their house to discourage the insects from setting up residence. When the beetles are found within the house they can be vacuumed up and disposed of outside without causing them undue harm.
The ladybugs pose no threat to humans. They do not bite, sting, consume wood or do any type of structural damage. They are a highly effective natural garden control means.
In many areas of the country gardeners purchase ladybugs from garden supply stores or online to set loose in their gardens. Large pecan orchard farmers let loose thousands of the insects to benefit the orchard production naturally by keeping pests down.
Avoid using pesticides around ladybugs. A few pesticides the beetles seem to have an immunity too but others will easily kill the ladybug.
Ladybugs can be a beneficial garden insect that offers a natural means of insect control without the use of harmful insecticides that can harm the environment.