Monday, July 25, 2011

Beneficial Bugs

I hope all of my readers are enjoying their summer.  One of my favorite parts of summer and one of the things I am crazy about is planting a garden.  I have kind of a love/hate relationship with this pastime.  I love to look at seed catalogs and dream of my own Garden of Eden.  Most of the time it just ends up being a Garden of Weedin' instead.

One of the things that we have discovered as we have tended our garden is the use of ladybugs to help with aphid infestations.  We were at the greenhouse and they were selling them in a bag.  I was fascinated the first time I saw this.  You just take this cute little bag of bugs home and follow the instructions.  I have done this a couple of times and each time I followed different directions.

The first time we read that you were supposed to put the bag in the refrigerator to help the bugs slow down a little and then at dusk place them under a bush or tree that you have sprayed with water to spread the aphids.  The instructions also recommended putting a plastic cover over this bush in order to keep the ladybugs in that specific area until daylight.  This last time that we bought and released the ladybugs we didn't do the refrigerating or the cover and I think it worked just as well.  The aphid population isn't gone but definitely diminished. 

I have always wondered why there were called ladybugs because obviously they are not all ladies and thanks to I found an answer.

There are different versions of how these beetles came to be known as ladybugs, but one of the most popular versions is that during the Middle Ages in Europe, the crops were being taken over by insects and dying. People were beginning to starve so the farmers decided to pray to the Virgin Mary to help them with their insect problem.

The farmers were a little bit upset when even more insects showed up, little red beetles with black spots on them, because they thought that these new insects were going to eat the crops, too. But the beetles that came actually ate the bugs that were eating the crops, and so the beetles became known as the “beetles of Our Lady”, eventually shortened to simply ladybug.

Here are some more fun facts:

  • A Ladybug can lay up to 1000 eggs in its lifetime.
  • Not all Ladybugs have spots.
  • Ladybugs will clean themselves after a meal.
  • Ladybugs come in many colors like pink, yellow, white, orange and black.
  • Over 300 types of Ladybugs live in North America.
  • Ladybugs make a chemical that smells and tastes bad so predators won’t eat them. 
  • Ladybugs hibernate in large groups in cold weather.
  • Many countries consider a ladybug to be a sign of good luck.
  • Ladybugs are actually beetles, so sometimes are called LadyBeetles.
  • The bright colors of Ladybugs warn birds that they don’t taste good.
  • The spots on a Ladybug fade as they get older. 

The one important thing to remember when you invite these lovelies into the garden is not to spray the larva when you see them.  We could not figure out what these little bugs were the first time we saw them and almost sprayed them.  They definitely look nothing like their parents.  :)
So, the next time you feel the need to eradicate some pests in your garden try these little beneficial bugs and of course I have some cute magnets you can check out too!  Good luck!

Crazed Momma


  1. I love your magnets! So cute!

    I also love the story of the ladybug name. What a great story!

    When we lived in KY, ladybugs used our house (they lived in the walls - yuck!) to hibernate in.... I wasn't particularly overjoyed at that, but I *couldn't* kill them! And yes, they smell bad when you squish them (which we would accidentally now that then).