Ladybugs are always a welcome addition to any garden because of their cheery colouring and adorable spots. But did you know that these insects are more than just a pretty face? Yep! These little beetles are voracious predators for some of our gardens worst pests.
Ladybugs are a beetle in the Coccinellidae family, with approximately 5000 different species it. In North America we commonly see Hippodamia convergens aka the Convergent Lady Beetle. These insects primarily feed off of aphids; however they also will prey on thrips, whitefly, leafhoppers, mealy bugs and mites among other soft-bodied garden pests. This appetite for our garden annoyances means that we can harness this insects for our own purposes without having to turn to insecticides immediately.
Ladybugs naturally occur in the lower mainland and without a doubt you have seen one in your garden or home. But these red and black garden friends do not start out so cute. Many times in the spring we at the garden centre get calls about clusters of "ugly" insects in peoples gardens. However, it isn't just humans that go through an "awkward" stage as we grow up. Ladybugs go through a larval stage in which they are a dark brown/black colour with a slightly spiky body. Depending on the species they may or may not have orange or red dots on their bodies. Larval Ladybugs also prey on aphids and other soft-bodied garden insects and can consume up to 300-400 aphids in the two weeks of this instar (stage of life cycle). Once they pass through this part of their life cycle Ladybugs pupate into their pupal stage which lasts about one to two weeks.
So if you are lucky enough to spot these insects in your garden, do not panic and think they are a pest. These are just adolescent Ladybugs growing up in your garden.
If you find yourself in the position with a aphid or mite infestation in your vegetable patch or flower garden you don't have to wait around for Ladybugs to find you.
We regularly sell Ladybugs as a beneficial insect and pest control management system. Adult Ladybugs can eat approximately 50-60 aphids a day, which makes them excellent allies to have in your garden and they do not damage or eat your plants. Each $19.99 bag contains 250 Ladybugs and are kept in our refrigerator. The cool temperatures of the fridge keep the beetles in somewhat of a torpid state. When you bring them to room temperature, you will see the Ladybugs become more active in the package.
Once you purchase your Ladybugs you can choose to release them immediately, or store them in your fridge for 3-4 weeks (up to the expiry date on the package). For best results, be sure to release them directly into the area where you are experiencing the pest infestation. Release your Ladybugs at dusk when temperatures are least harsh and provide them with a water source by misting the area with water. They will be hungry and thirsty when they emerge, so by providing them with both you are more likely to keep them fro flying away to find other resources.
So before you reach for the bottle of insecticidal soap, give Ladybugs a try! These little insects are happy to help you out and releasing them makes a fun and educational activity for kids. Ladybugs are now available in store, so come in to the store and grab some today!
Our new hours of operation are 9:00-5:00 seven days a week. With COVID-19 still affecting all of us, there are many safety precautions in store. In addition to sanitization of touch points and shopping carts, we are limiting 50 customers into the store at a time, there are dedicated entrances and exits, sneeze guards installed at every register, social distancing arrows and spacing throughout the store, our open air nursery is 20,000+sqft and our well ventilated greenhouses are more than 12,000+ sqft each. These measures allow for appropriate social distancing, and in more narrow spaces our staff are reminding all customers to leave 6ft between each other.