The Q&A Archives: Friend or Foe?

Question: I have found some strange insects on my plants. At first glance they looked like caterpillars, but upon closer examination I saw that they have legs. They have dark backs with orange-ish spots. They don't appear to be eating leaves or harming anything. Can you tell me what they are? Are they good or bad?

Answer: I'm not absolutely positive, but based upon your description, I'll bet they're ladybug larvae. These "good guys" are shaped like little alligators and have ridges running sideways from their heads to their tails. Eventually they'll draw themselves up into a roundish shape, develop hard wings, and look like full grown ladybugs. Don't do anything to them, they're definitely beneficial in the garden! These "youngsters" actually eat a lot more pests than the more recognizable adult ladybugs.

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