Ladybugs: Pest or Pal?

06/20/2012


Beneficial Insects    General Pest Control   

One of the most beloved bugs by children is that of the ladybird beetle, more commonly known as the ladybug. It has been at the center of corporate branding, symbolizing youth and fun, and even the topic of nursery rhymes:

Ladybug!  Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that's little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

Its bright red shell with black spots make it an attractive insect. But there is much more to this insect than meets the eye.

Ladybugs emerge from their wintery slumber at the beginning of spring and, as summer arrives, disperse into urban gardens, rural fields, and crops. Farmers particularly love ladybugs because they tend to eat plant-eating insects such as aphids, however, some relatives of the ladybird beetle are agricultural pests, destroying crops and plants with their insatiable appetites.

Ladybug swarms can be seen in Maryland homes and businesses on the earliest sun-kissed days of spring. It is at this time when the ladybugs are at their highest numbers that they are considered serious pests. Come winter, ladybugs retreat into our homes in groups for warmth and shelter from the cold. If you discover a ladybug in your house, you can be sure a few more aren't far behind.

Aside from being a nuisance and inconvenience, these colorful insects pose no harm to humans. They are not poisonous, but can have relatively toxic effects on some animals. In fact, ladybugs have the ability to emit a displeasing smell to deter predators. When stressed or frightened, they release their yellow blood from joints in their legs--the source of the foul odor.

These bugs tend to favor older and lightly colored homes, as well as those close to woods. They enter homes through poorly insulated doors, windows, and under clap boards. To help prevent ladybugs from coming inside, seal up these openings.

What do you think? Is the ladybug a pest, or a pal? Let us know in the comment section! Or you can tell us on Facebook or Tweet us!






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