A Quarterly Publication          March 2010           www.dausettrails.com

Lucky Ladybugs at Work

"Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are gone. All except one, her name is Ann, and she hid under the frying pan."

Ladybugs, or ladybirds, or ladybird beetles as known in Europe, are small 1/4" size brightly colored members of the Coccinellidae ("little red sphere") family. There are approximately 5,000 species of ladybugs in various colors. Four hundred and fifty species are native to North America.

During the Middle Ages, insects were destroying crops in Europe. Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon ladybugs came and devoured the pests and the crops were saved. The farmers began calling this miracle bug, "The Beetle of Our Lady". Eventually this insect became known as ladybeetles.

North American ladybugs are not fond of eating aphids and other pests associated with tree crops. In the 1880's, California citrus growers were facing a huge loss to a pest called scale. The farmers imported ladybugs from Australia to control the scale infestation that was destroying the citrus crops. Later in the 1970's, Asian ladybugs were imported to control the aphid outbreak threatening tree crops in the United States.


Life cycle of a Ladybug

Ladybugs lay 20 - 50 eggs in the spring.
The eggs grow and become larvae.
The larvae resemble tiny alligators.
After the larval stage, they become pupa, then adults.

One ladybug larva can eat up to 400 aphids
before developing into an adult.
Once an adult, the ladybug can eat
up to 50 aphids daily.


Ladybugs hibernate in the winter. Outdoors, they will seek warmth under bark, inside hollow trees and inside your home. They will find small cracks around windows, doors and eaves to enter. They prefer light colored buildings. Hundreds may cluster together. While hibernating, the ladybug will live off of stored fat.

If you need to relocate a cluster of ladybugs, here are a few suggestions. The ladybugs may be removed with a hand-held vacuum or standard vacuum. When using a standard vacuum, attach a piece of hosiery or stocking to the vacuum. When through, tie the stocking and release the ladybugs outdoors.

Always release the ladybugs with caution. When touched too hard they will secrete a smelly yellow liquid used to scare off predators. This foul liquid (ladybug blood) will stain clothing, carpet, curtains, and walls. Traps are also available to purchase. After removing the wintering guests, find the crack or hole used for entry and caulk to prevent ladybug re-entry.

click photo for larger image

If their bright red colors fail to scare away a predator, the ladybug will use a different method.

When frightened, the ladybug will pull in its legs, release a small amount of blood, and play dead.

Nearly everyone worldwide believes the ladybug is lucky. Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune.

Some say if a ladybug lands on you, whatever ailment you have will fly away with the ladybug.

If a ladybug is held in the hand while making a wish, the direction that it flies will show where your luck will come.

Perhaps the ladybug will bring a little luck to you and your garden.


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