Beautiful Beneficials: Lady Beetles

One of the most popular beneficial insects is the lady beetle or ladybug as they are so often incorrectly called. With more than 450 species of lady beetles in North America, both native and introduced, we should be well covered. However, many of those species are tiny, and only eaten certain things. However, most of the lady beetles we see around the Central Great Plains eat aphids, mealybugs, scale, mites, and psyllids. There are others that also eat powdery mildews and adelgids. A few species also eat plants, but we are not concerned with those today. 

Lady Beetle Life Cycle Courtesy of Carolina Resources

The lady beetle life cycle is complete metamorphosis, basically meaning that the larvae changes enough to be totally different from the adult stage, much like a butterfly. They start out as eggs which the hatch into larvae. The larvae do most of the eating of aphids and other pests. After a time, the larvae form into a pupa, which then the adult insect hatches out of. 

Lady beetle larvae feeding on aphids and whiteflies on tall sedum

We tend to see a variety of lady beetles in our garden landscapes. The most common species are the introduced Asian multicolored lady beetle, the convergent lady beetle, the 12 spotted lady beetle, and 7 spotted lady beetle. I have also observed a very interesting twice-stabbed lady beetle in my garden.

In order from left to right: 9 Spotted, Asian Multicolored, Convergent, Twice-Stabbed

 

Try to give nature some room in your gardens and you be rewarded with a lower need for chemicals, more variety in insect life, and better biodiversity overall. The more you try to control nature, the less it will reward you. So let us look for lady beetles in our own gardens.

 

Happy Planting!

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