Hello fellow readers,
I was chatting with Linda, my college roommate in southern California, who mentioned her friend Lore’s home is being swarmed by ladybugs. Many of us think of ladybugs as good luck which is said to have stemmed from farmers long ago, who prayed to the Virgin Mary that their crops be spared from aphids. Swarms of “Beetles of Our Lady” then appeared.
Ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) are beneficial beetles that you can buy by the bucket loads via mail order for your garden. Also known as lady beetles (they aren’t technically bugs), adults and their larvae can eat fifty aphids a day or 5,000 in their three-year lifetime. They also feed on other pests, larvae, and insect eggs including mites, leaf hoppers, scales, and mealy bugs.
Having them swarm inside your house doesn’t seem very lucky to me, although they’re coming in to hibernate not lay eggs, which is lucky for Lore. It turns out most ladybug infestations inside homes are the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) which were introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a biological control, first in Pennsylvania in 1978. They vary in color just as ladybugs do- from yellow, orange to red, but have a distinctive ‘M’ mark on their whitish heads as compared to our native ladybugs. Prevention is the best remedy for uninvited inside guests by sealing foundation and widow cracks. Once swarms enter your home their pheromones can attract them back year after year. Vacuum up those that enter and preferably release them if you would be so kind.
Superstition has it if one lands on you, the number of spots it has is the number of months (some say years) of good luck in your future; and the deeper the red the more luck you’ll have. Vice versa – if you kill a ladybug it’ll bring you bad luck.
Folks that practice fengshui in their homes and gardens to optimize energy flow frequently include a symbol of a ladybug. The notion of protection and blessings is why infant clothing is often adorned with ladybugs too. They say if one lands on an unwed lady, she’ll be married within a year. And some believe whatever the ladybug lands on will be swapped with an improved one. Hmm… does that mean if one lands on your spouse you’ll get a new and improved one? Don’t get any ideas Santa. Garden dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com