Ladybug Shortage

April 19, 2013 | Organic Gardening

If you are reading this on the West Coast you may already be aware of the fact ladybugs are in high demand as usual, but this year they are also in short supply.  If you are reading this on the East Coast it has probably been too cold up until this week to even think about ladybugs.  If you normally buy ladybugs in the spring to control aphids you may want to get your hands on them as early as possible this year because you will probably not be able to get any from May through June. There is no clear reasoning for the ladybug shortage, though this does tend to happen every couple of years or so.

Without adding ladybugs to you garden, there are other ways to control the damage caused by aphids.  The first would be getting your hands on some lacewings.  The brown lacewing is not as well known as the ladybug when it comes to controlling aphids, but they are just as hungry.  Or, if you can live without fresh mint mojitos, interplant mint plants in your garden.  Mint is one of the aphids favorite treats, and you can use the mint as a trap crop.  Just like us, aphids prefer desert to vegetables and will decide to feed on the mint rather than your vegetable plants.  Alternatively, if you want to accent your garden with something a little more decorative than mint, you could also try planting nasturtiums.

Chances are you will still see ladybugs in your garden even if you don’t add any to it. This is especially true if you start having an aphid problem as the ladybugs move to the most prevalent food source.  Keep your eyes out for all eight ladybug species common to North America and if you see one take a picture andcontact us, we would love to put it up on our blog!  Unfortunately the introduced species are more common than the natives now.

Harmonia axyridis

Harmonia axyridis, or Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle is an introduced species from Asia. Even though it quite hungry for aphids, it is considered a pest due to it’s tendency to enter homes and hang out on window sills. It can have many different numbers of spots or no spots at all. Look at the markings on it head for identification, they should look like a “M” or a “W”.


Coccinella septempunctata

Coccinella septempunctata, or Seven-Spotted Ladybird Beetle is a introduced species from Europe. It can be identified by an odd number of spots on its back.


Adalia bipunctata

Adalia bipunctata, Two-Spotted Ladybird Beetle is the first native on the list. Easily identified by the two spots on its back.


Chilocorus stigma

Chilocorus stigma, Twice-Stabbed Ladybird Beetle primarily feeds on scale as opposed to aphids. It is the inverse of the Two-Spotted Beetle, being all black with two red spots.


Coleomegilla maculata

Coleomegilla maculata, or Pink Spot Ladybird Beetle is a native to the East Coast of North America. They eat aphids and pollen, and are attracted to flowering plants.


Cryptolaemus montrouzieri

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, or Mealybug destroyer feed on surprise, mealybugs. They can often be purchased from commercial insectaries.


Hippodamia convergens

Hippodamia convergens, Convergent Ladybird Beetle is the most commonly available ladybug, and the one that is in short supply this year. Most easily identified by their body shape and white patterns on their heads.


Stethorus sp.

Stethorus sp. or Spider mite destroyer are a tough one to find because they are so small. They only grow to about 1.5mm in length.

As always happy gardening!