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The beneficial effect of ladybugs on our gardens - predators or pests


Most Ladybugs are saviors of crops for farms on down to our personal home plants. We want ladybugs (or lady beetles) in our gardens. They feast on tiny plant eaters (mainly aphids and spider mites) that are almost invisible to the naked eye.

They can be many different colors. They usually start feeding on ladybugthe bugs as soon as they are hatched and become larvae.

 There are a couple of types of beetles that eat the plants rather than the insects. One is a Mexican bean beetle. As the name implies they feast on beans rather than insects.

There is also a squash beetle that feeds on any type of that vegetable and can destroy the crop. These are destructive pests and can be difficult to discern what it is. These two pests look like ladybugs, but a couple of clues to identify them are, they will likely be on the vegetable that they eat and most ladybugs have black heads, these don't.

Another concern with a type of ladybug is the multicolored Asian ladybug. While most of our ladybugs will head for the trees and hills during the winter months. These Asian beetles like to make themselves comfortable in the house.

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More on ladybug swarns!

Seasonal ladybug swarms pester even bug experts

Posted: Oct 21, 2009 02:27 PM PDT

Updated: Oct 21, 2009 08:27 PM PDT

Associated Press Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Pest-control specialist Gene Scholes even gets bugged by them - legions of ladybugs lately swarming his rural Missouri home and other stretches across the country, exploiting gaps in door and window seals for cozier climes inside.

Bug experts say the Asian lady beetles, considered harbingers of good luck in many cultures, are making their seasonal appearance in droves in search of warmth for the approaching winter.

The beetles are harmless to humans. That doesn't make them any less annoying for folks like Scholes.

"Every night when I get home and it's dark, I turn on the lights and I have them to greet me. A lot of them," said Scholes, an entomologist for Reliable Pest Solutions in Quincy, Ill.

Thousands of them have congregated since Sunday outside his home near Hannibal, Mo. Dozens more have weaseled their way inside, he said, "and when they get in my space like that, that's when they bother me."

Their fate? Scholes' vacuum cleaner.

The beetle swarms tend to be heaviest on warm days after a period of cooler weather, Scholes and other insect experts said.

Where the beetles swarm can vary wildly, according to experts. The bugs have been especially thick in recent weeks in parts of Illinois, possibly because of this year's abundance of soybean aphids on which the beetles feasted, said Phil Nixon, a University of Illinois extension entomologist.

"Based on casual observation, many think we haven't had this many Asian lady beetles before," he said.

The beetles are particularly drawn to light-colored buildings with sunny exposures as they look for a warm place where they can ride out the winter. "Basically they just shut down," said Collin Wamsley, an entomologist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

The ladybugs aren't venomous but at times bite humans, leaving a red mark as they test a person's fitness as a possible meal. And "people don't like them because they smell bad," the result of their stinky ability to reflexively bleed to ward off birds and other predators, Nixon said.

Some accounts of recent infestations resemble something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film.

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Not very ladylike


Swarm of insects on campus continues to bug students

Phillip Pluta

Issue date: 10/21/09 Section: Campus

ISU is being invaded by pests.

"I got attacked by a lot of them when I was coming from the College of Business," said Durell Miller, a junior insurance and risk management major.

"They bite," said Savanna Hubler, a sophomore criminology major.

"They're ladybugs," said Peter Scott, an associate professor of ladybug swarmbiology. "But they're actually a kind of beetle, and there is more than one species; each one very hard to identify."

He said the multi-colored bugs seen around campus are most likely Asian ladybird beetles. Scott said they were brought from Asia to be used as garden pest control and are the most common species in Indiana.

"They sometimes prey on other ladybirds," he added.

Asian ladybird beetles can have highly variable color patterns, ranging from red with no spots to all black with various spot colors. mostly prey on soft-bodied insects and sometimes even each other in their larvae stage. They have been reported to spread rapidly and are also known to outcompete other native ladybird beetle species.

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Wingless Ladybugs Promise Lasting Pest Control

by Steve Levenstein 

Ladybug Ladybug fly away home, your house is on fire and your children will burn... Sorry kiddies, Japanese researchers from Nagoya University have produced "wingless" ladybird beetles that stay on (or near) the plants they're supposed to protect.

Ladybugs, also known as Ladybird Beetles, are voracious predators of harmful insects like aphids and can be bought in chilled bags by home gardeners eager to protect vegetable gardens without resorting to pesticides.

Commercial growers like ladybugs too, for the same reason. Problem is, beetles can fly and sooner or later (usually sooner) the aphids return to munch away unmolested.

Now a team of researchers at the Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences in Nagoya, Japan, has effectively clipped the beetles' wings without resorting to either genetic modification or, erm, actually clipping the cute li'l critters' wings.

According to a newly published article in the August 2009 issue of the UK's Insect Molecular Biology magazine, a team led by associate professor Teruyuki Niimi used a larval RNA interference technique to stunt the development of wings while the ladybugs were in their pupal state. The resulting beetles aren't actually wingless; their vestigial wings are just too small to allow the bugs to bugger off, as it were.

Of interest to environmentalists is the fact that the technique does not involve permanent genetic modification (GM) - the next generation of ladybugs will be able to fly normally. That the ladybugs are not sterile is also important because when it comes to eating aphids, flightless ladybug nymphs put their polka-dotted parents to shame.

Professor Niimi is continuing to refine the larval RNA interference technique so that it can be used on a large scale to "mass produce" wingless ladybugs to meet market demand from fruit & veggie growers large and small. (via The Japan Times)

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