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the daily gardener blog

ladybugs

Ladybugs are the gardener’s best friend. They are pretty, eat aphids and are always hungry. Their babies, the larvae, have a voracious apetite too. One ladybug can eat up to 5000 aphids a day. Their colorful polka-dotted half domes say to predators “I’m poisonous”, even though they are not, really. When stressed, they secrete a small amount of blood, which is yellowish and foul smelling and tastes really bad, so predators tend to avoid them.

Did you know that ladybugs were sent into space with the NASA space shuttle in 1999? Four ladybugs went on the space shuttle as part of a study on the effects of low gravity.

If you don’t have them, you can buy them, believe it or not. My daughter raised some as pets in a terrarium and released them in the garden when they became adults. If you buy ladybug larvae, a word to the wise, they are lively little creatures and will scatter faster that you can catch them. Don’t open the terrarium unless you absolutely have to. They need plenty of moisture and feed on a diet of chopped raisins. If they like your garden, they’ll stay, hopefully. They live 2 to 3 years and lay plenty of eggs.

If you find some in your home during the winter, don’t stress them out, they will not multiply and will go outside as soon as the weather warms up.