Understanding ladybugs | Living the Country Life

Understanding ladybugs

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese

Interesting history

Listen to the radio story mp3

Radio interview source: James A. Baggett, editor, Nature's Garden magazine

Ladybugs, properly known as lady beetles, have a rich folklore. Hundreds of years ago, doctors used them as toothache medicine. The Swiss told their children that ladybugs, not storks, brought babies to new parents. Some people believe lady beetles bring good luck if they land on you, and they've even been worshiped as divine pest intervention. That's apparently where the nickname "ladybug" comes from.

In the Middle Ages, swarms of insects devoured crops, and people prayed to the Virgin Mary for relief. The lady beetles flew in and feasted on the other insects, and became known as "The Bug of Our Lady."

James Baggett, the editor of Nature's Garden magazine, says you'll find lady beetles in your garden if you have the one thing they crave.

"They have voracious appetites for aphids, and as soon as they consume the aphids on a plant, they take flight and move on to the next meal, which may not necessarily be your garden," Baggett says. "They do eat other things, but primarily it's aphids, so they follow aphid infestations, especially during their reproduction cycle."

Aphids cluster together when they eat, so they can be destructive. Baggett says anyone who has roses will have an infestation of aphids at some point. Other types of aphids gorge on strawberries, fruit trees, and new vegetable shoots.


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