Ladybugs are strangle little creatures loved by both children and adults for their colorful, cute red bodies topped with black spots.
Unbeknownst to most, there is a plethora of history behind ladybugs and some important facts to know regarding their predatory instincts and diet.
What Is a Ladybug?
A ladybug, despite its name, is botanically a beetle instead of a bug. Don’t worry if you’ve gotten bugs and beetles mixed up though, they are cousins under the name huge family of insects. Insects are classified into 25 orders, with true bugs belonging to the order Hemipetera and beetles belonging to the order Coleoptera.
So what distinguishes a bug from beetle? A bug basically has a straw for a mouth, which it uses to suck up juices from plants, animals, and humans. Unlike bugs, beetles have remarkably tenacious chewing devices, enabling them to consume a diverse and delicious (to them) diet of rotting wood and fungi.
So in answer to the question, a ladybug is a beetle belonging to the biological family Coleoptera and not actually a a bug.
Why Are They Called Ladybugs?
It definitely seems strange to call what isn’t actually a bug by a name with the bug in it. The name ladybug actually has a curious historical background. Sometime during the Middle Ages, historians are not sure when, crops in Europe were consumed and destroyed by pests. This disaster was more than inconvenient, it was life-threatening in an age without grocery stores at every corner of the street.
So the farmers, being devout Catholics, began to pray in earnest that the Blessed Virgin Mary would intercede for them before God and turn back the pests from their crops. Soon after ladybugs appeared in swarms and began devouring the pests, presumably some of which may have been aphids. Ever since they have been called our Lady’s beetles. Some say that the red cloak represents the cloak our Lady wore and that the black dots are symbols of her sorrows.
Ladybugs are also referred to as ladybird beetles and occasionally ladybeetles, though most still know them as ladybugs.
What Do Ladybugs Eat?
Ladybugs have a diverse culinary palate. Some subgroups of ladybugs enjoy a nice meal of mildew or rotted leaves, while others prefer a delicious serving of fungus. However the main course for most ladybugs consists of pests.
What pests do ladybugs like to eat? Ladybugs are a beneficial boon to the gardener’s garden because they devour all kinds of terrible pests. Aphids, which especially attack broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables, are one of the staples of the ladybug diet. Ladybugs also enjoy white flies and mites, two other pestilent set of crop-destroying insects.
Do ladybugs eat mosquitoes?
Unfortunately for those struggling with a mosquito infestation, ladybugs do not eat mosquitoes. If you are struggling with a mosquito-filled backyard, here a few suggestions you may find helpful.
- Outdoor FanWant to enjoy a night on the back porch with from friends but plagued by mosquitoes? Blow them away, literally, with a powerful outdoor oscillating fan.
- Zap ThemConsider investing in a good bug-zapping device. Set it up in your backyard, turn on the UV light, and watch the mosquitoes die. No regret.
- Grow Anti-Mosquito Plants
Grow mosquito repellent plants like lavender, geraniums basil, citronella, lemon grass, and citronella.
Why Are Ladybugs Such a Vibrant Color?
Ladybug’s vibrant red serves as more than just a beautiful covering, it is a deterrent to warn potential predators away. When threatened or attacked, ladybugs release a distasteful and downright stinky odor. A few bold predators may still attack them, like toads, but for the most part ladybugs are safe.
Should I Add Ladybugs To My Garden?
Because of their predatory diet of aphids, mites, and white flies, you should definitely encourage ladybugs in your garden or even obtain some from a reputable source to add to it.
Pesticides have been shown to contribute to all sorts of health problems, from infertility to hormonal imbalances. Adding ladybugs to your garden will deter pests without the use of these toxic chemicals, a win-win for both you and the ladybug.
Are There Any Downsides to Ladybugs?
Avoid ladybugs if you are growing grapes. “…odor can ruin wine if the bugs settle in a vineyard and are processed along with the grapes.”
Ladybugs are a wonderful addition to the garden; they eat all kinds of pests and are almost always harmless to humans. If you want to lure in the ladybugs naturally, plant herbs such as cilantro, dill, angelica and flowers such as coreopsis, cosmos, and geraniums. Sadly, ladybugs do not eat mosquitoes. If you have a mosquito problem, some of the same flowers that attract ladybugs repel mosquitoes, so it’s a win-win!