|University of Kentucky Entomology|
by Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture pdf version
Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are a very beneficial group. They are natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other sap feeders. A single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Many species of lady beetles are present in Kentucky and they are common in most habitats.
Adult lady beetles have very characteristic convex, hemispherical to oval shaped bodies that can be yellow, pink, orange, red, or black, and usually are marked with distinct spots. This is a type of warning coloration to discourage other animals that may try to eat them. Like many other brightly-colored insects,they are protected by an odorous, noxious fluid that seeps out of their joints when the insects are disturbed. The bright body coloration helps some predators to remember the encounter and avoid attacking insects with similar markings.
Adult females usually lay clusters of eggs on plants in the vicinity of aphid, scale, or mealybug colonies. The alligator-like larvae are also predators. They are spiny and black with bright spots. Although they look dangerous, lady beetle larvae are quite harmless to humans. After feeding on insect prey for several weeks, the larva pupates on a leaf. Adults tend to move on once pests get scarce, while the larvae remain and search for more prey.
Some lady beetle species have several generations each year while others have only one. During the summer months, all stages can often be found at the same time. Adults of some species spend the winter clustered together in large groups under leaf litter, rocks, or other debris.
Common Kentucky Lady Beetles
While there are many species of lady beetles in Kentucky, a few are very common in agricultural fields, home gardens and landscapes, and wooded areas. These include:
Plant Feeding Lady Beetles?
Conserving Lady Beetles
Lady beetles can play an important role in managing some insect pests in crops and landscapes. Here are some things that you can do to maximize their impact.
CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.
Of course, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE!
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