Beneficial Insects

Ladybird Beetles

Ladybird Beetles
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Lady beetles, ladybugs, or ladybird beetles are among the most visible and best known beneficial predatory insects. Over 450 species are found in North America. Some are native and some have been introduced from other countries.

Most lady beetles in North America are beneficial as both adults and larvae, feeding primarily on aphids. They also feed on mites, small insects, and insect eggs. The two exceptions are the introduced Mexican bean beetle, Epilachna varivestis, and the squash beetle, Epilachna borealis. The adults and larvae of both species feed on plants.

Appearance
Adult lady beetles are small, round to oval, and dome-shaped. The most well known have black markings on red, orange, or yellow forewings, but some are black. The area immediately behind the head, the pronotum, may also have a distinctive pattern. The color and pattern of markings for each species may vary, but can aid identification. They have alligator-like larvae.

Habitat (Crops)
Many crops benefit from lady beetles. They are helpful for growers of vegetables, grain crops, legumes, strawberries, and tree crops; however any crop that is attacked by aphids will benefit from these beetles.

Pests Attacked
Most lady beetles found on crops and in gardens are aphid predators. Some species prefer only certain aphid species while others will attack many aphid species on a variety of crops. Some prefer mite or scale species. If aphids are scarce, lady beetle adults and larvae may feed on the eggs of moths and beetles, and mites, thrips, and other small insects, as well as pollen and nectar. They may also be cannibalistic. Because of their ability to survive on other prey when aphids are in short supply, lady beetles are particularly valuable natural enemies.