Occasional Invaders

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Lady Bug

lady-bug-bug-book

Color

Red, orange, yellow, brown, or shiny black, usually with various markings including white spots. Often bright yellow, red or orange with black markings or black with yellow, orange, or red markings.

Characteristics

Most species of this beetle family are highly beneficial insects. In fact, only 3 of 475 U.S. species are not beneficial.

Where Found

Ladybugs are found worldwide with about 475 species occurring in the U.S. and Canada.

Habitat

Ladybugs like a temperate climate with temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees. Cooler winters drive them to hibernate under logs, in leaf piles or in people's homes.

Food

Bug tartare. Or, making a meal of mealybugs. Larvae and adults eat aphids, mealybugs, mites, scale insects, other soft-bodied insects, and their eggs, making them very beneficial.

Biology

Overwintering adults emerge from hibernation and lay orange eggs in single or multiple groups of 12 on plants infested by aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, etc. Larvae pass through 4 molts. Mature larvae attach to leaves by the tip of their abdomens and pupate without forming a cocoon. Gardeners love them.

Damage

Feeling lucky? Actually, ladybugs are not only considered beneficial?in many cultures, they are a sign of good luck. However, some species have a habit of overwintering in structures and can sometimes be considered nuisance pests.

Good Riddance

Considering how beneficial they are, you might just roll out the welcome mat instead. Many homeowners raise certain plants in hopes of attracting ladybugs to the garden, and home centers often sell them as natural pest control agents because of their appetite for unwanted bugs. Ladybugs are not of any health or structural importance, and no direct control is recommended. Nonetheless, should you be facing a ladybug invasion in great numbers that get out of hand, exclusion using preventative physical barriers is one of your best solutions. Attic gables, overhangs, etc. should be screened with at least 16-mesh screening. If they're already inside, and no matter how much you sing to them you can't get them to 'fly away home,' try vacuuming. But be forewarned, they can stink up your vacuum hose.