L is for Lucky Ladybug

What better way to celebrate a Friday the 13th than by honoring the lucky ladybug?

It’s not just us squirrels that think a ladybug–whether seven-spotted or not–can be lucky. Farmers in North America, where the ladybug is from, have always known they help crops, so much so that children were told it would bring bad luck to kill one. A single ladybug–or ladybird beetle–eats 5,000 aphids over its lifetime. That’s a lot of crops saved from having their sap sucked out.

Their fame has spread to other cultures. Some people believe if one lands on you, it will bring good luck. Or if it lands on a object of yours, that thing is improved.

Seven is widely considered a lucky number, but if one does land on you, count the spots. That’s supposedly the number of months your good luck will last. The stronger the red color, the stronger your luck will be.

We squirrels think you better look for one like this!

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Ladybugs

Folks, we are falling behind. The chillier mornings make us squirrels want to stay in our leaf nests longer. Then we eat to get warm. Then we need to run around and collect acorns, and that makes us tired again. It puts other tasks out of our heads. I’m sure you humans experience this from time to time.

So let’s go simple today: a little photo sequence of ladybugs, from larvae growing to adulthood.

ladybugs mating with ladybug larvae

ladybug larve shedding exoskeleton

plump ladybug larvae

ladybug with exoskeleton

Ladybug

Pretty neat, huh? Though closer looks at those Milkweed leaves makes us squirrels wonder why any animal would eat them–meaning Monarch caterpillars, not ladybugs. They live on the Milkweed leaves because of the aphids–look for the smaller orange dots–which both ladybug adults and larvae eat.

One Of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey There!

We spot a ladybug, then we see a beetle in black and red but with a different pattern…

Mystery #130

…and we stumble over our paws wondering if it is a ladybug, too?

What do you think?

~~~

We had lots of looks today, but no guesses…and I have to admit, I thought I had this critter identified before posting his photo. But like Ms. Flora sometimes says, the best laid plans…

This nice eastern website of various beetles found on wildflowers identifies it as a Milkweed Bug (see bug #37), but when I went to verify this identification, Milkweed Bugs look way different. A site on Lady Bugs has a lot of answers and photos of ladybugs, including one very similar, but we finally turned to a human friend who told us it is a Milkweed Leaf Beetle!

Whew!

Milkweed Leaf Beetle on Butterflyweed

Apparently these beetles do not eat harmful aphids like the ladybugs, but instead eat the leaves of Milkweed plants, preferring, it seems, the Swamp Milkweed, so they are often called Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetles. This of course, is harmful to milkweed plants, which many of you humans would like to save for Monarch caterpillars to feed on.

Sorry to say, it’s very hard to control what bugs find your plants, just like it’s hard for us squirrels to know who might dig up our acorns.

 

 

L is for Ladybird Bettle

Or Ladybug, if you prefer the short name.

Ladybug

This friendly little insect is truly a beetle. It has two hard outer coverings–the red parts–that cover the wings. The name for the beetle group describes this rather nicely: Coleoptera. It’s from Greek words koleos–sheath– and pteron–wing. That’s sheathed wings, and if you look carefully when one takes off, that’s exactly what you’ll see! Kind of appropriate, when you also know this little warrior goes after other insects.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey, here’s an insect you probably see quite often—in it’s larval stage, so you may not recognize it.

Have a guess and I’ll check back later.

~~~

Ha, it’s a gardener’s favorite, the ladybug!

The orange and black stay with the insect its whole life and I bet many of you would like to learn to recognize it. Why? Because ladybugs eat other garden pests – like these aphids. They are fierce predators!

Here is one of the large shedding its skin to metamorphose into the adult Ladybird beetle.

Pretty cool, huh?