Lady Beetles in the Landscape
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As temperatures begin to climb, so do the number of insects in our home landscapes. One of the most common and recognizable of these insects is the lady beetle. With over 400 different species of lady beetles varying in both color and spot count, it’s not surprising these insects hold a fascination for many home gardeners.
Lady beetles are often recognized as beneficial insects that feed on other insect pests like aphids and mites. However, the cute little adult insects that we see flying around are not particularly heavy feeders, but the immature larval stages can be quite voracious. Since immature lady beetle larvae do not resemble adult beetles, they are often mistakenly identified as plant pests. Lady beetle larvae are brightly colored with a tail like appendage resembling an alligator. These tiny larvae are constantly searching for a meal, feeding on aphids, mites, and other soft bodied insects, including the eggs of moths or butterflies.
When lady beetle larvae eventually pupate, they become stationary and attach themselves to various plants surfaces. Pupae do not resemble adult insects either, which can lead to home gardeners confusing theme for sucking insects, who may then try to remove them. Adult beetles will eventually emerge from these pupae casings, leaving these old structures behind.
Lady beetles vary in color, with some insects almost completely black, while others can be reddish to orange. The multicolored Asian lady beetle can also vary in the number of spots present on their wing coverings. The multicolored Asian lady beetle, the seven spotted lady beetle, and the convergent lady beetle are some of the most common species you will find in our local landscapes.
Some homeowners may try to purchase these insects to use as biological control options in their gardens. However, purchasing lady beetles for release does not always go the way you plan, since these insects can easily fly away. One of the best ways to encourage lady beetle activity in your landscape is to recognize their presence, and practice patience by allowing them time to provide natural predation instead of applying insecticide.
Occasionally, lady beetles can be a problem for some homeowners, as various species prefer to overwinter in large numbers in cracks and crevices. Multicolored lady beetles have been known to be a nuisance for some homeowners in North Carolina who sometimes find large congregations in eaves and other locations in homes. While this is rarely a problem in Pamlico County, the simple solution is to use a vacuum to collect these insects, then relocate them to a protected area outside so they can continue to benefit your landscape next spring.
If you would like to learn more about lady beetles and the various species, consider reviewing our Extension note titled “Lady Beetles in the Landscape”.
For additional questions or information, please contact Daniel Simpson at 252-745-4121 or email@example.com.