Garden ladybugs for controlling aphids and other harmful insects. Ladybugs are the most popular beneficial insect for your garden. A single ladybug is capable of consuming up to 50 to 60 aphids per day but will also eat a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft-bodied insects.
Ladybugs will feed on other pests, but are best known to eliminate aphid populations, and are one of the most active predators. They search all day from dawn to dusk for food. Ladybugs are shipped in the adult stage and when released should mate and lay eggs within 8-10 days.
Ladybug eggs are football-shaped and orange in color and laid in circular clusters of 3-20 on the underside of leaves. Each female can lay 10-50 eggs daily. The larve consume up to 400 aphids at a rate of 50-60 aphids a day in later stages. If food supplies are short they will cannibalize each other. Larvae live for three weeks before pupating.
After 2-5 days adults emerge and continue to feed. Pollen and nectar are necessary for maturation of newly emerged lady bug adults, particularly before a winter hibernation season. Adults can survive on pollen and nectar for limited periods, but a supply of aphids or other prey is necessary for egg production.
When you are home, put the bag in a cool place (refrigerator) until late in the day or early morning. Do not release the ladybugs during the heat of the day or while the sun is shining. Sprinkle or irrigate the area before releasing, so the ladybugs will have a drink of water after their journey.
Being wild creatures, ladybugs will leave if they don't like their new home. You may have to experiment to provide the right environment for them. As I mention above, it is important to release the ladybugs in the evening or later because they will not fly at night and need a settling down period after being handled.
When releasing, gently scatter or spread them out so each ladybug can find food immediately. To help ensure the success of your program, there are many ways you can improve the habitat for beneficial insects. One of these is to keep moisture levels high, as many beneficials require high humidity or ready access to free water droplets. High humidity is more easily maintained by having plants close together. The garden or field should have various lowering plants to provide nectar and pollen for adult beneficial insects. In general, a mixture of closely-growing plants and flowers will greatly benefit both native and beneficial insects. This should result in higher productivity for your organic garden or farm.
Ladybugs are also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are natural enemies of many insect pests and it has been demonstrated that a single lady beetle may consume as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime.
This is one of the best known and most common American lady beetles and is found from southern Canada to South America. This is the species sold by insectaries for aphid control.
Convergent lady beetle adults are slightly elongated in shape and can range from 4-7 mm in length. They have a prominent black and white pattern behind the head, and black spots on red forewings. Beetles may have a full complement of 13 spots or they may have only a few. The white lines that converge behind the head are common to all individuals.
Wheat, sorghum, alfalfa, vegetables, greenhouse crops, orchard crops, and most crops attacked by aphids.