Ladybugs in your garden

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Anyone who has made it out of the 8th grade should be able to recognize this bug.

For those who didn't make it out of the 8th grade, this is an adult ladybug. I took this photo in my garden a couple of years ago. I spend a lot of my time hunting down insects in my garden and trying to take pictures of them. I'm convinced the neighbors think I have a drinking problem and choose the garden as my favorite place to pass out.

What if I showed you another bug, would you be able to identify it?

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Do you recognize this bug? Better question would be; if you saw this bug in your garden what would you do?

The first time I saw this bug in my garden I was sitting on my front stoop and noticed a couple of them using the railing as a bug highway. I'm not ashamed to admit that I freaked at the site of the orange & black monsters heading my way and reached for the flip-flops and killed them, after letting out a high-pitched scream.

Later that day I was surfing the internet gathering information on ladybugs when I came across a picture of the bugs I had just killed a few hours earlier. To my surprise I discovered I had just killed ladybugs in the larva stage.

Oops.

Before they become the round & shiny bugs we all know and love as ladybugs they go through an ugly stage where they are always looking for something to eat.

What do ladybugs eat?

They eat aphids, lots of aphids. Aphids are a bug you don't want to see in your garden. Aphids can and will attack ornamental plants and vegetables you are growing in your garden.

Because of the association ladybugs have with kids & girls they don't get the respect I think they deserve. Ladybugs are actually little warriors with an insatiable appetite and they're always ready to fight.

Ladybug pest control

Gardeners long ago recognized that ladybugs were beneficial to have around and they're popular with organic gardeners because they help keep down garden pest populations. Ladybugs are cheaper (they're free) than pesticides-- before you reach for bug spray in your garden to kill off a pest think about the ladybugs that you may also kill. I like to use ladybugs as a natural garden pest control.

That's a video I made a while ago of a ladybug I caught and moved to some poppy seed pods that were being attacked by aphids. If you look closely you'll see that the ladybug is chowing down on the aphids. If I spot a ladybug anywhere near my garden I'll collect it and move it to an area where I know it will find a good meal.

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