I’ve always liked ladybugs, with their shiny red shells and the way they’ll land on your hand and crawl around. Also seem to remember something about them being good luck (I’m pretty superstitious) and when it comes to gardening I’ll take all the luck I can get.
Their scientific name is Coccinellidae, based on the Latin word for scarlet, makes sense since they red. Originally known in Britain the lady bird, or lady beetle they held some sort of religious symbology related to the Virgin Mary. In very early paintings she’s pictured wearing a red cloak.
Around the world, ladybugs are very much a useful insect. If you notice them in your garden or in any of your trees its a safe bet they have a food source, and more than likely its an agricultural pest such as aphids. In the wild they can live up to 2 to 3 years and will lay their eggs in the colonies of aphids and when they hatch they immediately begin to feed. It’s a good thing too because aphids can quickly cover a tree.
The ladybugs below were spotted in one of my Anna apple trees shortly after I noticed the aphid infestation. First there were two, then I noticed a total of 4, feasting away on the aphids and laying more eggs. Within a span of about 2 weeks they had nearly cleaned out all of the aphids. They’re a pretty voracious critter.
Moral of the story, not all insects are harmful to your plants and nature has a way of taking care of itself. Even if I used some type of insecticide which I like to avoid, these little guys did all the work without the chemicals and they work for free. Can’t beat that.