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Why a ladybug is useful and how to attract her to the garden

The ladybug is one of the few insects that people like, especially children. Everyone probably remembers the children’s song: “Ladybug, fly away to the sky …”. Once upon a time in childhood, we caught these bugs and always let go, tossing up and singing these words.
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No wonder this epithet is God’s. In almost all countries, the name of this insect is just as poetic. For example, Catholics call her ladybird, ladybug. The word Lady in this context means the Virgin Mary, that is, the ladybug is considered an insect of the Mother of God.In France, it bears the name poulette à Dieu (“god’s chicken”), in other countries its name is also associated with a pet belonging to God. This bug cannot be confused with any other: black dots on a bright red or yellow back are immediately striking. Today we will learn more about these, at first glance, familiar, but essentially little-known insects.

Meet the ladybug
In nature, we most often meet red or yellow ladybirds, the backs of which are decorated with black spots. In fact, these cute bugs are very diverse: there are over 4,000 species, and they are all part of the Coccinellidae family.

We used to think that ladybugs destroy aphids, but not all species do this. Indeed, many feed on aphids and are more common on those plants where their colonies live. Some species live in tree crowns, some live mainly on meadow grasses, others settle on coastal plants.

Almost all representatives of this group of insects are predators. Adult bugs, and especially their larvae, are distinguished by enviable gluttony and eat innumerable quantities of agricultural pests – aphids, scale insects, sawflies, leaf beetles, ticks and others, bringing undeniable benefits to humans.

However, there are vegetarian species, they are mainly found in tropical countries, but there are exceptions. There are pests of agricultural plants among the ladybirds. In the Far East, the 28-point ladybug (Epilachna vigintioctomaculata) lives, harming potato plantings. In the southern regions of Russia, there is a pointless ladybug (Cynegetis impunctata), which damages legumes. Also in the south of Russia is the alfalfa ladybird (Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata), which can harm the plantings of sugar beets and alfalfa.

These bugs are colored brightly for a reason: with their catchy appearance, they warn other predators, in particular birds, that they should not be eaten, they are poisonous. On the legs of insects there are small pores, from which orange drops of a caustic substance with an unpleasant odor are released.

Life cycle of a ladybug
If you look closely at the plants on which aphid colonies were found, you can see yellow-orange egg clutches on the leaves, laid by a female ladybug. The life of one insect lasts about 1.5 years, and during this time one ladybird lays up to 1000 eggs. Of these, gray-brown larvae appear with orange spots on an elongated body.

When viewed up close or under magnification, they look quite ugly and look like little monsters. Unknowingly, people mistake them for harmful insects and can destroy them.

While developing, the larvae begin to intensively feed on aphids, grow and pupate. Ladybug pupae, resembling Colorado beetles, after a certain time turn into an adult insect. The whole process of their development in the climate of Russia takes 40-60 days. With the onset of cold weather, adult insects take refuge under the bark of trees, in heaps of fallen autumn leaves for the winter.

In the life of these bugs, there are some facts that have not yet been studied by scientists. For example, every year ladybugs make an “invasion” to a particular country or area. I myself once had a chance to see such a thing. It was in September 2013, when we traveled around Gorny Altai and were on Lake Teletskoye in the village of Artybash.

It was a warm, sunny autumn, and ladybugs flew around in the air in clouds, flew into houses, covered all the windows. As I understand now, this was their “invasion”. They also like to gather in large groups, often somewhere near water – on sand or stones.

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