J500 Media and the Environment


Oh Where, Oh Where Have My Ladybugs Gone? by meganr21
February 5, 2009, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Nature + Travel | Tags: , , , ,

 

An experienced harvester may collect 3,750,000 ladybugs in a day.

An experienced harvester may collect 3,750,000 ladybugs in a day.

Growing up my parents did a lot of gardening and every time we went to the nursery, without fail, I found my way to the containers of ladybugs. These ladybugs in theory were great for the garden and ‘could fix just about any aphid problem’. Occasionally I would luck out and find myself the recipient of one of these pint-sized containers, eager to release them the moment I got home. I was always disappointed when I stepped into the garden the next day and only ever found one or two ladybugs of the hundreds released the day before. 

Ladybugs can be a great source of pest control when growing your own food, IF you can get them to stay in your garden. Unfortunately 12-Spotted Ladybugs from California are unique compared to their relatives throughout the rest of the United States – they migrate. During warmer months, usually around the time when people start gardening, the ladybugs get geared up and head towards the Sierra Mountains. It’s not until the first rains, usually around October or November, that the ladybugs make their way back towards the west coast. 

So how do you get ladybugs to stay in your garden if they’re continually migrating? The answer: larvae. If you can plant species attractive to the adults, they’ll lay eggs which shortly turn into ‘weird looking’ orange and black bugs. Ladybug larvae eat aphids, same as adults, but are more stationary and so offer a perfect alternative to pesticides and overly mobile adults.

 

Megan Richards

 

Thanks to http://media.lvrj.com/images/2603309.jpg for the photograph.

 

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6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I love ladybugs!How long is the larvae stage, before they reach maturity?

Comment by mackenzies09

Ladybugs stay in their larval stage for around three weeks, which if you compare that to 1 day of adults sticking around is a much longer duration for pest control. You’d probably need to stagger larvae in your garden over the summer/planting period but they are pretty good at controlling aphids.

Comment by meganr21

I love this information! I didn’t know that ladybugs are great for gardeners, but I’m going to pass it along!

Comment by christinaw09

This makes me happy! My grandpa makes ladybug houses out of old logs.

Comment by brennad87

During the winter months lady bugs find there way into the south sides of peoples houses. When they release a pheromone, it attracts others to the same location. I was swarmed by some this fall, behind Watson Library. They could have been the invasive hamonia axyridis. Also known as the asian lady beetle, this species was first introduced in this country in 1979.

Check it out:
http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/biocontrol/predators/harmonia.html

Comment by matthewtb

You’re right matt, the Asian Ladybird Beetle does ‘migrate’ in the winter to an extent, they tend to congregate in hollows in the wild like old trees. In cities where many of their natural overwintering spaces have disappeared they take up residence in homes and other structures. Also keep in mind that not all species of Ladybugs migrate or congregate during the winter.

Comment by meganr21




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