- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Who wouldn't like to have a lady beetle, aka ladybug?
Although they're commonly called "ladybugs," entomologists call them "lady beetles." That's because they're beetles, not bugs.
Nevertheless, who wouldn't like to have one?
The California Grange traditionally gives away lady beetles at the annual California Ag Day, held around the first day of spring on the west lawn of the state capitol. These beneficial insects gorge on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
We took ours home and placed one on a Iceland poppy stem and another on a rose bush.
And then we photographed them as a sort of "proof of life." Out of the container and into the garden. Go get 'em, lady beetles!
Lady beetles belong to the family Coccinellidae, derived from the Latin word coccineus, which means "scarlet." However, not all lady beetles are red. Some are red, yellow, black, gray, or brown. Some have spots or stripes. Some have no markings at all.
They're sometimes confused with the spotted cucumber beetle, a yellowish green dome-shaped insect with black spots, but that one is a pest.
If you want your own lady beetles, you can usually buy them at a hardware store. Or on Saturday, April 18, you can stop by Briggs Hall during the annual UC Davis Picnic Day and receive free lady beetles from the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM). (You can also engage in maggot art, cockroach races, termite trails, honey tasting, and other fun activities that the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is planning.)
As for the lady beetles, we're promised more. Last week we received a special gift--a cluster of 24 eggs deposited on our passion flower vine (Passiflora).