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Ladybird larvae are as brilliantly colored as the adults, often blue, with stripes of orange or black.

Ladybirds may be cute but baby lady beetles look nothing like the adults. Ladybug nymphs resemble tiny black alligators, about ½ in length, with red, orange or white markings. In fact, their appearance can be quite scary and make you want to squash them underfoot.

Ladybirds have been recognized as one of the good bugs or “beneficial insects” to humans for a long time. During the Middle Ages, they were thought to be helpful to farmers and so were named the Lady Bird, that is, the helper of the Lady Virgin Mary. Consider that one nymph will eat about 400 aphids during the 3 weeks before it pupates.

Lady beetles overwinter as adults in dry, protected areas such as tree bark, house shingles or even indoors in attics. They come out from cover in early spring and begin feeding and laying eggs right away. One female lady beetles can lay up to 1,000 eggs over a 3 month period. When the young lady beetles emerge from the eggs as nymphs, they look like the picture at above and begin feeding immediately.

As an adult lady beetle it will eat more than 5,000 aphids in its lifetime! While their favorite food seems to be aphids, lady beetles will also prey on soft scale, whitefly pupa, thrips and spider mites, if no aphids are available. We only planted out our garden late last November, but we’ve already spotted many ladybirds in our garden this spring.

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