Ladybird Beetle

I'm sure we all remember the ladybird beetle poem.

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home.

Your house is on fire and your children are gone.

All except one and that's Little Anne, for she has crept under the warming pan.

Average lifespan in the wild: 2 to 3 years

As children, I wonder how many of us gardeners heard or recited this ladybird poem and at that time had no idea how important this friendly little critter would become in our gardening life.

Because it is such an important garden critter, I believe any information about ladybug beetles and how they protect your vegetable crop from invading pests would be a valuable asset for any beginner gardener to know.

Ladybird beetles are from the beetle family consisting of approximately 5000 different species most of which are up to no good in your garden. Below is an example of two of the bad guys.

The Mexican bean beetle look very much like large ladybird, but this is where the similarity ends. Unlike ladybird beetles, the Mexican bean leaf beetle feed on plants and leaves.

Their preferred munchy of choice are most varieties of snap beans, lima beans and soybeans.

Bean leaf beetles are a coppery color with with eight black spots on each wing cover.

At first glance you may mistake a squash bug for a stink bug. They do look similar and when a squash bug is disturbed it does give off an odor. However, the squash bug is from a different bug family than the stink bug.

Squash bugs are usually dark grey to dark brown with a flat back and wings. The underside of this pest have orange or orange-brown stripes that can easily be seen if you turn them over.

They cause damage to plants by sucking sap from young plant leaves causing plant wilt and in some cases plant death.

Their favorite plants of choice are squash, pumpkins, melon, and other plants in the cucurbit family.

The Ladybird Beetle A Gardeners Friend

So what is it about a ladybird that makes it such a great friend to you and your vegetable plants?

Well ... If you are an organic gardener, you already know the answer to that question. But if you're a beginner gardener here is a little more information about ladybird beetles you will find useful and perhaps help persuade you to become an organic gardener.

Ladybirds are voracious eaters feasting on a variety of vegetable pests such as aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites, and eggs of the Colorado potato beetle and European corn borer.

One of a ladybirds  favorite meals are aphids and in its lifetime a ladybug will consume more than 5000 of these pests (statistics from USDA information about ladybugs).

And if that's not enough to rid your vegetable garden of these bothersome pest, the female ladybird will lay hundreds of eggs where she knows aphids are present and when they hatch, the ladybug larvae immediately begin to feed on these pests, thereby insuring a continuation of the ladybug species.

And to all us gardeners, that is indeed good news.

Now that you read information about the ladybird you might want to find out about more good guys and bad guys here at garden pests.

I've also include other information you may find of interest at Colorado State University.

As always,

Happy Gardening

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