Day 249 | Monday, 23 November 2020
From The Church Mouse
Before I tell you about Lady Bugs, I want to tell you about the feedback I received about the issue of the Mouse dealing with the Fisher. According to a friend, who is a retired Biology teacher from Fredonia, they have two Fishers living in Canadaway Creek. Karen also sent a picture of the Fisher that was photographed walking down the street near the Reg Lenna Theater….toothy grin and all. Can you believe that? So, keep your eyes peeled, because you never know.
I wanted of write about one of God’s tiniest creations: The Red Lady Bug.
Remember these? They have up to 16 black spots. They were everywhere when I was a girl, but I haven’t seen any in a very long time. Ladybugs (also called ladybirds and lady beetles) are a type of beetle that usually have a red, oval-shaped body with black spots. The most common color of ladybugs is red, but some types of ladybugs have yellow, orange, grey, or even pink body. The majority of ladybug species are harmless and are good for your garden. Also, you don’t have to worry if you see a native species of ladybird (ladybug) in your home. They don’t bite and they don’t carry disease.
The reason we don’t see our old time Lady Bugs is that they have been replaced for the most part in our area by the orange variety, the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis).They can have many spot patterns. They vary in color from yellow to red-orange or even black, but it always has lines that curve inward to form an “M” or “W” pattern behind the head. The ones I see here are the red-orange variety.
Which ones are better for us? Both insects are predators of aphids that feed on plant juices and damage vegetable, flower and tree fruit crops. The native ladybug only eats soft-bodied plant pests like aphids or insect eggs that are laid on leaves. This is usually the type of ladybug that is collected and sold as a natural pest control for gardeners. Asian lady beetles prefer aphids but will eat other ladybug species and will infest fall fruit like grapes, apples and raspberries. I think you can tell that I consider the Asian lady beetle an aggressive species, and that we need to help our old-fashioned native Lady Bug to return to us.
How can we attract native Ladybugs? You might have some luck if you stop raking leaves. Ladybugs like to overwinter in leaf litter, unlike the Asian lady beetle which prefers your warm house. You could also put in aphid-loving plants to attract the native species, but the Asian lady beetle will be drawn to the same plants. You can also buy ladybugs, but there could be Asian lady beetles mixed in, and most will fly away if there is no available food source.
The best plan of action is to remove the Asian lady beetles when you see them and offer the native species a safer environment. If the Asian lady beetles are inside, vacuum them up using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, or sweep them with a broom into a dustpan and dispose of them. If they are outside and you are positive they are Asian lady beetles, you can pick them off and dispose of them. Make sure you are not removing native ladybugs!
The Lady Bugs we like and miss are available for sale on-line as a safe alternative to pesticides, so don’t be surprised if the crazy Church Mouse doesn’t approach you in the spring to take up a collection for Lady Bug Restoration.