My garden has been full of insect activity recently. There are lovely, tiny, metallic flies, some shiny black wasps, also tiny, and a few bees. I have also seen several ladybugs in the garden, plus some ladybug babies (larvae) and pupae (where larvae transform into adults).
Which Species of Ladybug is in My Garden?
I am always happy to see ladybugs in the garden. They eat a lot of aphids. The adult ladybugs eat aphids, and the larval ladybugs eat aphids. For an organic gardener, this is a win-win combination!
Many of us would much rather rely on predators like ladybugs than use even organic-approved sprays.
When I decided to find out which ladybug is most common in my garden, I took a lot of pictures and then searched online.
My ladybugs mostly have about 16 spots on their backs, so it was easy to eliminate “two-spotted ladybug” from the list of possibilities.
Even better, university-based websites agreed that the black “M” shaped marking behind its head was a defining feature. It means my ladybugs are Asian multicolored ladybugs. At least, the adults are.
Apparently, this is a ladybug that tries to overwinter inside buildings; in winter it is considered a pest. In summertime, though, in gardens and farms, it is a big help in removing aphids from crops.
This University of Kentucky page includes pictures of several kinds of ladybugs. Maybe the ladybugs in your garden will be native, and not imports like mine!
Why Are Ladybugs in the Garden, in Georgia, from Asia?
Apparently, various people brought these ladybugs to the U.S. on purpose, to help control pests like aphids and soft scale insects. According the University of Florida and the USDA, these ladybugs were released here many times in the past. The first time may have been a hundred years ago! The multicolored ladybug finally established permanent populations in the U.S. in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Plenty of Work for Ladybugs in the Garden
My kale, especially, has been hit hard by aphids. Luckily, we have already eaten quite a lot of the kale ourselves. The current plan is to harvest the rest of the kale, wash it very well, and eat it soon. Any we don’t use on tonight’s pizza will get stashed in the fridge to use tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I have seen aphids on the milkweed — planted for the butterflies — and a few on leaves of the iris. Aphids also can be pesky in the fall; they are not just pests for the spring. My garden will probably feed a lot of ladybugs for many weeks to come.