I bought a new Canon PowerShot SX40 HS digital camera this year to improve the photos on my blog. I love the camera’s ease of use and most of the time, the pictures turn out great; however, the all-purpose zoom lens (35x IS) doesn’t allow me to take close-up shots. The reason I mention this is that this post is about ladybugs, a tiny insect with a body length of only 0.08 to 0.4 inches (2 to 10 millimeters).
My lens, as you can see in the second picture is clearly not up to the job, but here’s a high-resolution picture from the website: www.public-domain-images.com:
Anyway, yesterday, I noticed a couple of ladybugs on our back porch, soaking up the sun. How cute, I thought. Then, I saw a couple more, then a few more, and soon counted three dozen or so.
Like many other insects (i.e., the dratted stink bugs), they are looking for a place to spend the winter. They gather in large numbers for warmth and hide under leaves, tarps, or buildings, and will come into your house if they can find a way to get in.
Inside your house, they are actually quite harmless. They don’t bore or chew holes or lay eggs, but if you want rid of them, one way to trap them is fill a couple of Dixie cups or other small containers one-third full of grape jelly and set them on the window sill. Over a span of a few days, this will trap a large number of the invaders, which can then be released away from the house. You can also use a “shop vac” with a clean bag or a piece of cloth in the bottom to collect them and then release them outside. Because our homes are very dry in winter from the heat, most of the ladybug guests will more than likely die from dehydration anyway.
Most gardeners know that ladybugs are beneficial insects, capable of consuming up to 50 to 60 aphids per day, as well as a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, whiteflies, thrips, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, and mites. They also eat the eggs of some insects such as moth eggs and certain ladybugs eat pollen and mildew. Many people purchase ladybugs in the spring and release them in their garden to help control destructive pests. If you decide to try this, make sure there’s ample food (pest insects and pollen) and water in the garden, or they will fly away once the food is exhausted. An excellent website, both for attracting ladybugs and for keeping them in your garden throughout the growing season, is: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/gardening-how-to/attract-ladybugs.htm
There are beneficial insects and pest insects. Good insects are Mother Nature’s way of controlling nature’s pests. Learning which insects are good and which are bad will save you time and money in the garden, and help create a natural environment good for plants and people.