The Importance of Ladybugs
Ladybugs are generally considered lucky and are loved by many farmers because they eat insects that destroy plants.
Ladybugs, also known as ladybirds or lady beetles, are small, brightly colored beetles made up of more than 5,000 separate species and found throughout the world. These insects, unlike many others, are often accepted and even loved by people, due to either their colorful appearances or to their cultural and agricultural importance. However, despite the beneficial aspects of many ladybugs, some species also are considered pests. Have a question? Get an answer from a Veterinarian.
Ladybugs have become entwined with cultural folklore in many parts of the world. They are generally considered lucky, with one piece of lore in parts of northern Europe contending that a ladybug landing on someone means that person will have a wish granted. In Italy, a ladybug flying into someone’s bedroom is said to bring good luck, and in such locales as the United States, Denmark and Russia, the tiny insects have been immortalized in popular children’s rhymes.
Certain species of ladybugs, including the seven-spotted ladybug, gained religious significance as far back as the Middle Ages. Legend has it that during this time period farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary to save their crops from insect pests. Soon, swarms of ladybugs came and ate the pests, saving the crops and becoming known as “beetles of Our Lady.” Over the centuries, that distinction led to the shorter names of ladybird beetle, ladybird, and finally, ladybug
Farmers are among ladybugs’ biggest fans because these tiny insects are voracious eaters, and some of their favorite foods also happen to be some of the farmers’ biggest pests. Ladybugs can save crop plants by feeding on the aphids and other insects that eat those plants. In addition to eating the adult aphids, ladybugs sometimes lay their eggs among colonies of aphids and other plant pests, and when the larvae hatch, they immediately begin to feed on these insects. By the end of its life, a ladybug can eat as many as 5,000 aphidsLadybugs as Pests
Not everyone looks favorably upon ladybugs. These little creatures can make nuisances of themselves when colder weather forces them to seek shelter because they often do so inside people’s homes. Additionally, a few species of ladybugs eat plants, rather than plant-destroying insects. The squash beetle and Mexican bean beetle are two types of ladybug that, as their names suggest, feed on squash and bean plants, making them pests to farmers who raise those crops.
By Jamie Rankin