Ladybug Lost

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen – 28 September 2020

[ Just a note about a curious thing to lighten your day. ]

This is the time of year that ladybugs start to look for places to spend the winter.  They don’t migrate like songbirds, but hibernate, more like bears or turtles.  Many of us find ladybugs  inside our homes once the weather starts to get cold, or,  even more often, in the spring  when the ladybugs that have been sleeping inside our home’s  walls all winter come out on the inside of the house instead of the outside!

Ladybugs are Good Bugs!

In your flower or vegetable garden, ladybugs are beneficial – both the adult (ladybug) and the larvae eat aphids, mealybugs and spider mites, all of which cause damage to your plants.  Ladybugs are so helpful that they are sold as natural “pesticides”, shipped to your home for release in your garden.

The most commonly commercially sold ladybug is the Asian Ladybug – often with thirteen spots, although there are many forms – which has become the predominate species found in the United States.  It seems that Asian ladybug larvae eat not only aphids, mealybugs and spider mites, but the larvae of other ladybug species as well!  This has possibly contributed to the decline in populations of other ladybugs in the United States. 

The Lost Ladybug

The Official State Insect of New York State is its native Nine-Spotted Ladybug.

Only one small problem, for almost 30 years, the nine-spotted ladybug hadn’t been spotted in New York State.  So, in 2000, Cornell University started  The Lost Ladybug Project.  In 2011, on an organic farm in Amagansett, NY,  Peter Priolo, a volunteer the Lost Ladybug Project, found a single nine-spotted  ladybug on July 30 in a patch of sunflowers during a group search he had organized.

 The NY Times reported:

As of 2006, only five nine-spotted ladybugs had been found in North America in the previous 10 years, none of them in the East. Then one lone ladybug was found in Arlington, Va. None had been found in the East since, and only 90 have been reported in North America.

Researchers from Cornell University subsequently collected enough nine-spotted ladybugs from the new found colony to enable them to start a captive breeding project.   Here a video from Cornell about it, just under 5 minutes long.

In the video, we hear that it is the seven-spotted ladybug, which came over from Europe,  is displacing the nine-spotted ladybug in New York State.

On each wing cover, we see three-and-a-half spots – making seven.  Our Lost Ladybug has four-and-a-half spots on each wind cover, making nine.  This means, as far as spots go, that the Lost Ladybug Project is about those two missing spots.     

Ecologically, of course, it is much more complicated and nuanced.  Not all ladybug species behave in exactly the same manner, don’t eat exactly the same prey and may not fill the exact same niches in either their original or current environments. 

For better or for worse, The Lost Ladybug Project is breeding and releasing colonies of nine-spotted ladybugs  through Cornell County Extension agent offices.   

A handy ladybug identification poster is available from the Lost Ladybug Project here [ pdf ].

Those interested, especially those being forced to homeschool kids through the fall and winter, might want to visit The Lost Ladybug Project website.   Citizen Scientists of all ages can find, photograph and report sightings on their web site.  Any child that can count to ten will be able to participate.  Even I can do it. 

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Author’s Comment:

All of my children were homeschooled at one time or another, all for varying reasons.  We considered this kind of an opportunity a windfall.   

Of course, during my “homesteading days” we raised a huge garden, mostly organic from necessity, and my kids were great at finding and identifying the various insects, both good and bad – they also ate most of the vegetables right in the garden.  My wife and I had to pick anything we hoped to get into the house. 

Glad to hear from you on insects and gardening issues.

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September 27, 2020 7:39 pm

Interesting post, Kip. My children (11 and 13), will be all over the search for nine-spotted ladybugs after reading your article. I guess we still have time before hibernation…
I grew up in the 1970’s, 30 minutes outside Vancouver, BC, in the Fraser Valley, and I recall seeing hundreds of black-spotted, distinctly red ladybugs every summer. In my mind’s eye, they had nine spots. This summer, for the first time I can remember, I saw orange ladybugs without spots (or so I thought), but that was in wine country in BC’s Okanagan, about 400 km east of Vancouver. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for the missing variety. Thanks!


September 27, 2020 7:46 pm

Joe Biden might brag that he found a ladybug with 2 million spots or perhaps the square root of 21.

Reply to  Scissor
September 28, 2020 2:25 am

Any child that can count to ten will be able to participate.

Well hopefully Biden will not be in charge of anything as important as ladybirds in the near future. I guess he could get help from Hunter, he’s the one in charge of counting all the big numbers.

As for the children, they don’t need to be able to count, there’s an app for that !

They just point their smartphone at the bug and google will tell you what it is and how many spots it has.

Doug Huffman(@doughuffman)
Reply to  Greg
September 28, 2020 3:07 am

Alphabet Google will tell the approved ‘truth’ over facts. Alphabet is EVIL.

The proper number of spots is a mere social construct.

Teach our children to count and repair to a printed textbook.

Ric Werme(@ricwerme)
September 27, 2020 7:55 pm

The ladybug that tries to spend the winter in our house walls is an Asian critter.

Here’s some information on it.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 28, 2020 2:21 am

The level of knowledge of that article does not suggest a deep understanding of insects’ requirements. Very vague. Sounds like someone pulling ideas out of the air or writing internet “content” after spending 15min on line.

The “advice” on humidity while basically sensible is so vague and imprecise to be of no practical use in successfully controlling the environment you keep your prisoners in.

Through partnerships with county governments, UNH Extension offices staffed by specialists, educators, support personnel and volunteers are located in each of the state’s 10 counties.

I guess this one got written by “support personnel “.

One thing I’d be pretty sure about is that they do not need to be inside our homes in the winter at all. They should start by saying what environment they successfully spend the winter in the wild. I would guess they are looking for some deep nook or cranny where thermal inertia of the stone will protect them from freezing.

I’m sure Jim Steele could tell us all about it.

Doug Huffman(@doughuffman)
Reply to  Greg
September 28, 2020 3:17 am

I would gladly trade ladybugs for the wasps (spp?).

Very deep nooks and crannies here freeze so hard that an exceptionally cold winter’s night sounds like popping corn from the Niagara Escarpment that tumbles almost into my garden room. (No, no, not corn-pop. Get y’alls’ mind out of the gutter!)

My general bug-proofing is with a 24/7 dehumidifier in my 30 y.o. amature built cottage.

Reply to  Ric Werme
September 28, 2020 1:29 am

That would be the stinking, biting, Asian Ladybug. An unpleasant introduced species that ruins the wine and bites you in your own home, and other places.

September 27, 2020 8:00 pm

On the Western edge of Boulder Colorado, the Flatirons rise majestically, resembling their namesake. Ladybugs congregate in huge numbers at the peaks of the flatirons and overwinter beneath the many sandstone slabs. I always wondered if Bear peak were so named because bears would feast on the ladybugs found there.

Reply to  Scissor
September 28, 2020 2:29 am

I love the serious hiking footwear. Nothing like being prepared when you set out.

Reply to  Greg
September 28, 2020 6:52 am

I didn’t notice that. Not smart. In all probability, those are democrat voters.

I live a little ways away, but on my bike ride yesterday I counted Trump signs outnumbering Biden’s by a 2 to 1 ratio. In 2016, Hillary signs were in the vast majority partly because her supports would steal or vandalize Trump signs.

steven c lohr
Reply to  Scissor
September 28, 2020 3:52 pm

I live in Boulder County too, but never thought to bother counting signs. I figured, well, you know, why would it be different from any other year? I can account for IL, NV, ND, SD, WY, IN,NB,OH,IA, UT, WVA and even parts of MN; from the interstate of course. If those counts are indicative, Biden is rapidly approaching the end of his political career.

Reply to  Scissor
September 28, 2020 8:14 am

I saw a huge swarm of ladybugs (didn’t count the spots) on the peak of a mountain called Flat Top in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It was amazing. I was wearing hiking boots.

Zig Zag Wanderer
September 27, 2020 8:10 pm

Love these critters. Redback spiders (ver venomous) were eradicated in Queensland once because of a plague of these.

September 27, 2020 8:47 pm

I’m not saying that people that release these ladybugs should be hit real hard, but maybe a stiff jail term would be proper:

Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 28, 2020 9:23 am

We deliberately did not build a tight house. In them an air exchange mechanism is absolutely necessary or your windows drip on the insides. To adequately do this, forced air ventilation is necessary to get it to all the rooms, and there was not room in the basement of the house we renovated (its got 12 of the original studs). A tight house is dependent on having electricity available all the time. When a tree falls on the line, the ususal reason for power failures here, we are comfortable with a small auxillary propane$zA

Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 30, 2020 6:43 am

Our current house is one of those where ladybugs overwinter.

We have a sunroom attached to our brick/wood structure. This is where I grow orchids, impatiens, geraniums, pitcher plants and a few fig trees.
Only glass/aluminum structures do not mate well to brick/wood. Gaps form during cold periods.

What I’ve puzzled about are why the ladybugs come out of hibernation in a well protected hibernation location?
We get ladybugs, and ground beetles ‘harpalus pennsylvanicus’, every fall. Ground beetles get terminated, ladybugs are happily tolerated. Though we do encourage them to fly away, fly away.

Wolf spiders enter at this time of the year too. We bring them back outside to leaf piles along the east facing brick walls. Especially, the spiders carrying broods.

Putting ladybugs into the sunroom is a death sentence. I do not tolerate most critters on my orchids that ladybugs prefer to eat. Plus the abundant pitcher plant vessels are very effective at catching insects. They are the best ant prevention I’ve found.

During the main winter period, no ladybugs flit around the house.
When the sunlight gets strong enough in late February, we get our first awakened ladybugs.
Bright warm sunny days wake up the ladybugs.
Ladybugs waking up midwinter are encouraged to find dormancy again in our attached garage. During warmer periods we take ladybugs to nearby pine trees.

I feel blessed that my house succors ladybugs. Personally, I am far happier hosting ladybugs. Homes that play host to boxelder bugs, or worse to ‘brown marmorated stink bugs ‘Halyomorpha halys’ are worrisome.

One house where I delivered mail was literally covered every spring by boxelder bugs. The Southwest side of the house was hidden by the boxelders.

My in-laws lived in a neighborhood where ‘brown marmorated stink bugs’ invaded houses every winter. Enough got inside that one could pick up any item, e.g. bathroom towel, and find active stink bugs.

I greatly prefer ladybugs.

Great article, Kip!
This is the autumn time of year where the ground beetles rush our door every night, our first obvious intruders.

Ben Vorlich
September 27, 2020 10:24 pm

I’ve always known them as Ladybirds, which I think is their usual name in the UK. There are occasionally invasions of swarms into Souther England from Europe. Which is interesting because I don’t see many in Limousin.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
September 28, 2020 9:29 am

I remember at the coast of the Baltic Sea lived millions. No idea about the reason but seems to be best conditions for them.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
September 28, 2020 10:14 am

I thought that a ladybird was a married woman hanging out in a pub that she frequented when she was young. If she can sing well, she might be considered a song bird.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
September 29, 2020 7:27 pm

We had ladybirds hibernating in our house in England and they also hibernate in our house in Victoria (Aus) in large numbers. We were unaware that they were hibernating in the chimney that houses the flue of our ‘Squirrel’ stove until we lit it and there were ladybirds everywhere! We need them now, with the aphids multiplying rapidly on the roses.
We too dislike an airtight home and want the gentle ventilation supplied by the construction, post and beam with Timbercrete blocks. I always feel stifled in my sister’s home that is almost rabidly sealed, in a panic that the tiniest bit of (gas fuelled) heat should escape.

Reply to  Annie
September 29, 2020 7:29 pm

I also remember there being so many on the top of Mt Olympus in Cyprus that you couldn’t help stepping on some.

September 27, 2020 11:29 pm

The UK also has a problem with non-native invasive Ladybirds (as we call Ladybugs).

I am unclear whether the villain is the same species as the one causing trouble in the USA – please let me know…

Reply to  griff
September 28, 2020 1:49 am

I am reporting you all for racism .. All ladybirds matter (ALM). What we need is ladybird equality, where every ladybird throughout the world gets a living wage, a good home and a caring community. I am calling this brave new scheme the Ladybird New Deal (LND).

Reply to  LdB
September 30, 2020 6:48 am

I love it, LDB.

Reply to  griff
September 28, 2020 1:51 am

As ever Griff you wallow in the scare story and are out of date.
The Harlequin became established in the UK as an ‘invasive alien invader’ in about 2004.
There was an initial ‘report report squish squish’ panic because ‘expert scientists’ believed it would out compete and eat our own lady birds and other species.
It proved not to be the case and all is harmonious with no noticeable effect, no problem.

Reply to  MrGrimNasty
September 28, 2020 5:51 am

I knew that – I’m just asking is this the same species as in the story under another name?

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  griff
September 28, 2020 2:11 am

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire,
Your children shall burn!


Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one, and her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan.

I knew the first version my wife the second.

Reply to  griff
September 28, 2020 2:37 am

A non-native species originating from Asia, the Harlequin ladybird is having a negative impact on our wildlife – it out-competes our native ladybirds for food and also eats their larvae and eggs. It is prevalent in towns and gardens.

Yet more of the “nothing must ever change” mentality of so-called ecologists.

it is able to out-compete our native species for aphid-prey and will also eat other ladybirds’ eggs and larvae. It can have multiple broods throughout the spring, summer and autumn, which also gives it a competitive edge.

I’m sorry for the native ladybirds but this competitor species sounds like a boon for pest control a great food source for those higher up the food ladder. Why is this a problem?

Oh and why hasn’t this been linked to rising CO2 ?? We never had this many in 1975 so their expansion is clearly related to our use of dirty fossil fuels. We must act now !!

Matthew Sykes
September 27, 2020 11:38 pm

Ladybirds we call them in the UK. Always wondered what the negative image ones were though, asian are they?

Reply to  Matthew Sykes
September 28, 2020 1:43 am

In the 1976 heatwave we had swarms of ladybirds and they started eating people (well bitingthem anyway!).

Reply to  MrGrimNasty
September 28, 2020 2:44 am

I was living in SE England that year and they were everywhere. They were quite a large variety which was uncommon until that year. Never got the slightest nip though. Grossly exaggerated.

It was also the only descent summer of my youth. I waited another 10y expecting the occasional good weather must happen from time to time but then gave up when to live somewhere with sun.

Reply to  Greg
September 29, 2020 7:34 pm

I have had nips from ladybirds here in Australia.
I seem to remember incredible swarms of aphids on the trees along a road in Worcester sometime in the latter 1970s. Everywhere was horribly sticky. Maybe the ladybirds bred up after that?

Reply to  MrGrimNasty
September 28, 2020 3:53 pm

I remember the swarms of ladybirds on the Linconshire coast in 1976; they came over from Holland following swarms of aphids, there were billions washed up on the beach at Cleethorpes in mounds 18″ deep along the high-tide mark. (must have been climate change !!! )

John F Hultquist
September 27, 2020 11:59 pm

About 40 years ago we visited a place in Northern Idaho along a road called White Pine Drive. This is northeast of the town of Moscow, home of the University of Idaho.
Spring was in the air, but snow was on the ground. Logs and stumps, being brown, had warmed enough to melt the snow. The small beetles covered – – thousands of them – – covered the exposed bark. I suspect they had overwintered in the soft interior of the decaying forest relics.
Could be there is residual warmth therein, plus that of the thousands of critters.
Somewhere, in years of accumulated boxes, I have 35mm colored slides. Alas, for now memory has to do.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  John F Hultquist
September 28, 2020 10:20 am

I have found them to be common along the rivers in the Mother Lode of California. They don’t just hibernate there over the Winter, but apparently leave the hot Sacramento Valley in the Summer to enjoy the cooler climes in the shade of riparian environments.

September 28, 2020 12:14 am

For those with a Ladybug fetish ,.. go to the “images” pages 🙂

Reply to  fred250
September 28, 2020 2:40 am
Reply to  fred250
September 28, 2020 4:43 am

oh dear, i may have flattened a few of the uncoloured types;-(
didnt know we had 167 or so
i have seen the striped ones maybe 4 or so over the years
I remember a greek neighbour having so many on his capsicum plants I could scrape them off in handfulls to play with
inner city adelaide around 1967
we also used to have the lovely big green and brown grasshoppers and plenty of mantises in any long grass along fencelines IN the inner city
living rural with no chemuse at all on my land its a rare day to find ladybirds matises or grasshoppes now;-( and thats in 2 states
both have high chem use farmland around
the two species we still get massive swarms of in cycles is cockchafer beetles near xmas
and stinky rutherglen bugs ruining the mulberries no matter what ime they ripen the bugs appear

September 28, 2020 12:53 am

The current UK invasive species is the Harlequin ladybird. Not sure where it came from.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  SimonJ
September 28, 2020 5:48 am

That’s novel information.

September 28, 2020 12:55 am

I’ve only had a garden for three years, so I am a n00b at this.

I knew that ladybugs were ‘good’. I am also appreciative of the humble earthworm. I have an informal little compost going where I assume they thrive (haven’t checked yet).

However, there are a great many creatures I do not recognize. The “killer snail” is bad for salads I know, but will it also eat the leaves off my red/black currant bushes? What about smaller snails that I see parked on the leaves? Are they munching leaves or smaller insects? Each leaf usually ends up with one or two holes punched through them.

September 28, 2020 1:24 am


I wonder how many ladybirds are chopped up by wind turbines?

German researchers calculated that each wind turbine kills up to 12,000 insects per day, which is some 12,000 tonnes of dead insects per year in Germany alone. as the bugs fly in much the same arc as the turbine pattern..

A separate study found the German wind insect death toll to be around one-third of the total annual insect migration in southern England, a comparison which scientis calculate equates to losses of a trillion bugs per year.”

Dead insects spatter turbine blades substantially reducing efficiency and have to be cleaned off


September 28, 2020 1:44 am

Actually, there are a few ladybug species that feed on plants and are considered pests, such as Epilachna species or this Japanese species (my photo):

Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 28, 2020 9:41 am

I had a camellia that got scale very badly. The web garden advice was to take it out. Well, we have very unbalanced soil, with an order of magnitude higher Ca than any other macronutrient, which makes it difficult for some plants to absorb micronutrients – when that much unbalanced, soil amenedment is not possible. For things that don’t do well, if we really want to keep them we spray with a seaweed based micronutrients weekly in spring and monthly in summer. I was amazed at the effects on blackspot on roses, for example.

Anyway, that summer the camellia recovered and is still doing well, although the damaged area looked permanently scrawny, so I cut it off the next year.

September 28, 2020 1:50 am

Sorry, I couldn’t seem to post the correct photo.
Harlequin ladybugs are native to Asia.

Carl Friis-Hansen
September 28, 2020 6:37 am

The dear critter has many name not necessarily related to its anatomy.

In American English: ladybug (a high society female bug)
In British English: ladybird (a high society female bird)
In Danish: mariehøne (a hen called Marie)
In Swedish: nyckelpiga (key maid)
In German: Marienkäfer (a bug called Marie)

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 28, 2020 8:53 am

“Why do they call them Marie?”

I have a vague idea from my childhood in Denmark.
Half a century ago, when I was a young boy, our household often had huge dinner parties. During such occasions extra staff was called in to help in the kitchen and serve the guests. The women that were called in to serve the guests were called mariehøns (ladybirds) and dressed in a white dotted blue uniform, a funny little white hat and sometimes an apron in white.

It seems like marie is associated with everything dotted. The Germans are also using marie in the same way, so it is surely of Germanic origin, and may date many centuries back.

Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
September 28, 2020 10:46 am

In Switzerland: Himugüegeli (Sky or heaven-buggy)

September 28, 2020 7:16 am

My local area in the US central Appalachian Mnts has been subjected to severe plagues of ladybugs, varying from year to year. Worst years they can practically cover the sun-side of the house on a warm mid-fall day when looking for hibernation-spots. Many will find their way into the walls and gradually over the winter into the house proper. Attic in spring literally has PILES (thousands) of dead ones in the corners. Never, ever had or heard of this problem until moving here. Last couple years problem has not been as severe, fortunately.

Tom Abbott
September 28, 2020 7:30 am

I get ladybugs in my house every spring. I spend a lot of time capturing them and throwing them outside.

I never thought to count the spots on their back. I’ll pay more attention this spring. 🙂

September 28, 2020 8:30 am

One time, our shrubs had a bad aphid infestation. Our local hardware store was selling boxes of ladybugs (don’t know what variety they were). They were kept in a cooler, to keep them in a semidormant state. I bought a box and put them out with the aphids. To my chagrin, the ladybugs all flew away. Guess they weren’t hungry. 😒

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  littlepeaks
September 28, 2020 10:28 am

That has been my experience both with commercially purchased ladybugs and those I have collected in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. In most cases they didn’t even take time to look for a snack before leaving.

Carl Friis-Hansen
September 28, 2020 9:31 am

Ladybugs are “good weather” messengers to to God.

If children in Scandinavia get hold of a ladybug, they put the little fellow on the index finger and ask it to fly up to our lord and ask for good weather.
Sure they flew away to get away from the stinking finger, but not so sure they were invited to audience with God.

John F Hultquist
September 28, 2020 9:33 am

In the Eastern USA, the current invasive is the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula). Quite pretty as an adult.

September 28, 2020 9:55 am

In BC we have a huge list of invasive species. One thing I notice is that they almost exclusively grow where humans have disturbed the natural ecology – along roads, in empty lots, along power lines. Its funny that blackberries are not on the list, as they are a widespread non-native. However, they got started before the panic and people love picking berries. They really are a pest if they are on the other side of your deer fence. I remember the fuss about purple loosestrife in Ontario sometime in the 80’s. It was going to wipe out the diversity of all the wetlands. 40 years on, there are patches of purple in the wetlands that everyone thinks is pretty and the panic is long forgotten.

Reply to  Fran
September 28, 2020 10:12 am

Hi Fran,
Purple loosestrife remains a significant concern in wetlands as it remains a problem and while the public in Ontario might think little of it, others, including those managing wetlands disagree.

You’ll find similar information in most, if not all, other Canadian provinces.

There is a small beetle that operates as a biological control of this plant that helps, though it doesn’t always establish quite so well as hoped.

September 28, 2020 10:07 am

” Ladybugs are so helpful that they are sold as natural “pesticides”, shipped to your home for release in your garden.”

And the absolute first thing they do upon release is emigrate away from the area of release.

While many are now familiar with the MALB (multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle) that happily infests homes (it’s originally from a much more mountainous region of Asia and overwinters typically in the hillsides/mountain sides/cliffs – the only thing similar in many regions of North America are buildings) most ladybugs will overwinter among tree and leaf debris often in very large numbers. We have one such area not so far away, the Delta Marsh area of Lake Manitoba and millions of ladybugs will come here in winter. Many other areas are known and it is likely a very common occurrence worldwide in temperate regions, likely mediated by an aggregation pheromone that isn’t present during the rest of the year.

When spring comes the ladybugs disperse, a response to cold induced diapause. The dispersal is highly logical, in the sense that there wouldn’t be nearly enough food for a large aggregation to survive for very long, never mind their increase due to offspring. So they fly away.

When you buy ladybugs as a “biocontrol” agent you are doing a “nice” thing, but those ladybugs have been reared in a lab, stored in cold diapause (mimicking nature) and then released in a nice warm garden. What do they do? Fly away/disperse. Sure, a few may remain, but most will not. So congratulations, you’ve released many more ladybugs into the wild, but probably not on your own property.

Is it a good thing? Depends on what you’re releasing. If it’s an non-native species, which it often can be in your region depending on who you source it from, you may have functionally introduced an invasive species into your area that may have significant impacts on the local, native population of insects most notably other ladybug species.

Now, if you’re running a greenhouse, then I’m 100% supportive of using the appropriate species. But outside? You just pissed away money to make yourself feel good.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 29, 2020 10:25 am

Kip. Yep, edumacated and actually employed as such. Whoulda thunk it possible.

Took a peek at your article. It’s nice but I could shred it pretty easily if I were inclined. One of my minors was toxicology so I’m really not inclined to look upon articles like that very fondly. They are well meaning, but un-sciency.

As for the ladybugs, they’re perpetually hungry, whether they’ve woken up or not. They’re especially ravenous after coming out of diapause and unless your garden is loaded with aphids and similar soft bodied pests they are moving out of there because the carrying capacity isn’t sufficient ANDit is hard wired into their DNA to move after coming out of diapause. No matter what well meaning folks might want, nature doesn’t really give a damn. Now in a greenhouse where they can’t get away they’ll do a marvelous piece of work. Big fan of biocontrols in greenhouses but they need to be situationally re-applied, whether you’re talking predatory mites, ladybugs, etc.

September 28, 2020 1:59 pm

I used to buy a box of ladybugs in the spring every year, when I was in high school. Kept them for about 10 days until the weather warmed up a little, then took them out to the apple trees in the back yard and opened the box after I put it into a spot on the branches that would hold it steady.
Then I opened the lid slowly, let them crawl out, and they’d slowly emerge in small numbers, hop right on the apple tree branches, warm up a bit and start crawling around looking for small bugs to eat. Worked fine, and they’d also turn up in the garden. Never had bad bugs show up, unless you count some black wasps that were interested in getting nectar out of the parsley blossoms.

Reply to  Sara
September 28, 2020 8:25 pm

I miss that kind of thing, Kip. No place to do it around here, and I doubt that the DNR in my area would approve of it, even though the native plants would benefit from it.

Gary Pearse
September 30, 2020 10:49 am

Kip. A bit late to comment so probably you won’t see this. I had a “homesteading” period as well, raising six kids of mine and two of somebody else’s. Sheep, dairy cow, pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, horse, market garden, oats, feed corn, hay …I believe I discovered something new about a similar bug – the harlequin beetle.

comment image

Apparently known only as a leaf pest, I found they suck the life out of immature potato beetles. I noted, mysteriously, young potato beetles dead and shriveled up on many potato plants until I came across a harlequin beetle in the act of finishing off one of these young bugs. I actually spread harlequin around my potato crop after that with good results. I had forgotten about this in the ensuing 40 years until I read your article

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