"Well, yes, I would like some aphids for dinner," said every lady beetle (aka ladybug) everywhere.
With the lush green growth of spring, come aphids (the prey) and lady beetles (the predators).
And now, if you look closely, you'll see clusters or rows of lady beetle eggs on your roses. Luck be a lady...
"The name 'ladybug' was coined by European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests began eating their crops," National Geographic says on its website. "After ladybugs came and wiped out the invading insects, the farmers named them 'beetle of Our Lady.' This eventually was shortened to 'lady beetle' and 'ladybug.'"
Globally, we have some 5000 species of lady beetles. Entomologists call them ladybird beetles. Yes, they're beetles, not bugs. The term, bugs, applies to insects in the order Hemiptera, while lady beetles belong to the order Coleoptera.
Lady beetles range in color from red to orange to yellow, with or without spots. See the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website for photos and descriptions.
The red and orange are warning colors in nature. Hey, don't eat me. I don't taste good! You'll be sorry! In fact, their hemolymph is both toxic and foul-smelling. Predators steer clear of them.
Although lady beetles don't taste good to predators, aphids are a different matter. Aphids are apparently quite tasty. One hungry lady beetle can gobble up about 50 to 75 aphids a day or 5000 over a lifetime, scientists say. But who's counting? There's no "Weight Watchers" or "Waist Watchers" program in place.
Lady beetles also devour other soft-bodied insects, such as scale insects, white flies and mites.
Today (March 20) marked the first day of spring and the international Day of Happiness, one and the same. Rain pelted our roses, and doused the lady-beetles-that-were-eating-the-aphids, and the aphids-that-were-sucking-the-plant-juices and the roses that were just trying their darndest to grow.
Meanwhile, the goldlike eggs just glistened...with promises of a new generation of lady beetles...
If there's anything better than one ladybug, it's two ladybugs.
And if there's anything better than two ladybugs, it's a cluster of ladybugs.
Our bee friendly garden is devoid of bees, but about 12 ladybugs are overwintering near the house. Some are in the artemsia bush, and others are in the folds of tangerine leaves.
Like postal carriers, they're weathering the driving rain, the bitter cold and the harsh winds. At times it seems like they're puppies cuddling to stay warm.
Ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles, aka lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) are beneficial bugs. They're predators and rid the garden of aphids, scale insects, mites, mealybugs and other soft-bodied insects.
Soon, as spring approaches, they'll do just that.
Red ornaments on a Christmas tree?
No, ladybugs (aka ladybird beetles or lady beetles) on Artemisia.
Ladybugs are overwintering on our Artemisia (genus belonging to the daisy family, Asteracease).
When the rains come, the drops bubble up on the plants and the ladybugs alike.
It's Christmas Eve and the ladybugs are Nature's sparkling red ornaments, providing comfort, cheer and color to the holiday season.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
"I'm a ladybug. Please, take me home. I want to live in your garden.
I like to eat aphids. Aphids are tiny green insects that are harmful to plants."
"Just like the Grange, I'm a friend to the farmer and you."
Those visiting the California State Grange booth at the California Agriculture Day on Tuesday, March 23 on the state capitol grounds received that welcoming note, two ladybugs, and information about them.
It was an excellent idea--giving away ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles (Hippodamia convergens). These brightly colored beetles with the familiar black spots eat aphids, moth eggs, mites, scales thrips, leafhoppers, mealybugs and other small insects.
We took home two ladybugs and released them on a rose bush in our patio.
They went right to work.
It reminded us of the two ladybugs we received last year from the UC Davis Department of Entomology at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day. They also found a home in our garden.
This year's Picnic Day, the 96th annual, is set April 17. Look for entomological events at Briggs Hall on Kleiber Drive, and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at 1124 Academic Surge, California Drive.
The Picnic Day theme? "Carpe Davis: Seizing opportunities."
Including the opportunity to take home a couple of ladybugs.
Bugs and kisses.