Walking around the garden with my camera yesterday evening, I came across a loveliness of ladybugs (apparently that’s the collective noun for a group of them!) residing on my eggplants. Each leaf seemed to bear its own ladybug creature – and every one of them seemed to have had more than enough to eat.
Hardly surprising, there was not an aphid in sight. It was like watching a bikie party occur in your neighborhood – apart from the bikies everyone else just stays indoors.
So, what are these little creatures? Do they have a purpose and are they a good thing for my garden?
Here are some facts on ladybugs that might be useful;
- Scientific Name: Coccinellidae: They are beetle not a bug or a bird
- Common Names: Ladybugs, Lady Beetles, Ladybirds
- How many species: There are more than 450 in the US alone and more than 300 in Australia.
- Ladybugs Life Cycle: [Link since removed]
- What do ladybugs eat? They’re not picky but they do enjoy a good meal of aphids, mites and other small insects.
- How many aphids does each one eat? While in the pupae stage, each ladybug will consume more than 350 aphids each. Then once they become an adult the number can increase to more than 5000 in its lifetime.
- Where do they go in winter?: They hibernate just like many cold-blooded animals. You will possibly find them in attics, crevices in the wall or anywhere that’s dry, warm and out of the elements. Here’s a post I wrote earlier on this very fact.
- Too many aphids: You can buy ladybugs if they haven’t turned up in your neighbourhood yet.
- How to get rid of ladybugs: I’m not sure that you would want to do this but if for some bizarre reason you had an infestation of them and they became problematic you could use a pesticide on them. They are far more acute to chemical sprays than the pests they devour so don’t go spraying them around if you want to keep them in your garden.
- Are there ‘male’ ladybugs? Of course. Ladybugs are sexual insects and mate similarly to many animals.
- Are the orange ladybugs the male? No. Male and female of each species look very similar apart from some minor differences and can rarely be split apart. Ladybugs come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Some are black, some are black with red dots, others are red with black dots, orange with black dots, striped, mottled you name it they seem to come with that design.
- Red Ladybugs are lucky? Why do we attribute ‘luck’ to an animal or insect? You’re lucky if they turn up in your garden but it doesn’t matter what colour they are so long as they have an appetite.
Ladybugs are fascinating creatures and my kids were so enthusiastic finding them all over our plants last night. It seems they’ve done their job so it will be interesting to see if they will stick around or head off someone else. Who knows, they might even hibernate in our roof cavity?