The Q&A Archives: lady bugs

Question: I seem to have an abundance of lady bugs in my vegetable garden. They are the kind that are all orange and orange with black spots. I was told to leave them alone as the will control the other insects in the garden. Is this true?

Answer: Sounds like you have a population of beneficial insects in your garden! Coccinellidae means "little sphere". Adult ladybugs are oval and convex. The wing covering varies from red or yellow, sometimes with black spots, to black, sometimes with red or yellow spots. They are often shiny with eleven segmented antennae. The head is totally concealed from above. Ladybugs have three distinct tarsal segments and short legs. The larvae are elongated, somewhat flattened, and covered with tiny spines. Most resemble tiny, black, six legged alligators with orange spots. Ladybugs lay tiny, yellow, oval eggs which are laid upright in clusters of 10-50 on the undersides of leaves. There are approximately 4,000 species of ladybugs worldwide and over 350 kinds in North America.

Both adults and larvae prey on aphids , soft scale insects, mealybugs and spider mites. One larvae will eat about 400 medium sized aphids during its developmentin the pupal stage. An adult ladybug will eat about 300 aphids before layingits eggs. Approximately 3-10 aphids are consumed for each egg that is laid. Females can eat up to 75 aphids a day and a male can eat up to 40 per day.Over 5,000 aphids may be eaten by an adult in its lifetime. As fall approaches, ladybugs tend to feed more on pollen which supplies fat for winter hibernation.

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