When I was growing up, my mom's gardens were full of butterflies and ladybugs.
Not until many years later did I understand that it's easy to get certain wildlife to visit your gardens simply by growing the plants that they like.
At the property I was previewing today, it seemed that there were millions of ladybugs.
Here are some of what I came home with:
Look at those last two pictures. How many ladybugs do you see? If you answered two and five, you're correct! Those ugly bugs you see there are simply the pupal stages of ladybugs. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of ladybug pupae and larvae all over the property.
Interesting facts about ladybugs:
- They are actually beetles, not bugs. Bugs, beetles, they both start with B.
- They are in the Coccinellidae family, which has over 5,000 species, 450 just in the United States.
- They are beneficial insects, so if you see them in your garden, be happy!
- The Mall of America releases thousands of ladybugs each Spring inside the mall as natural pest control for its indoor gardens.
- It is a myth that the number of spots on its back indicates its age.
- While many critters in nature use camouflage for protection, the ladybug opts for the opposite in wanting to be noticed. This is called aposematism. Predators learn that certain phenotypes are associated with bad taste, or worse.
- Ladybugs can spray a toxin that is venomous to some mammals and other insects.
- Ladybugs are extremely sensitive to synthetic insecticides.
- Plants known to attract ladybugs include mustard plants, buckwheat, cilantro, red or crimson clover, vetches, bronze fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, yarrow, coreopsis, cosmos (especially the white ones), dandelions, and scented geraniums.
- The ladybug is the state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Interestingly, here is the "garden" where I found the ladybugs, and "garden" is a term I use very loosely in this instance:
If that's the type of San Diego garden that attracts ladybugs, well, I'm just going to have to make do without them.
Remember the nursery rhyme, Ladybug, Ladybug? I had no idea there were so many different versions, but here is the version I learned as a child:
Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire;
Your children all roam.
Except little Nan
Who sits in her pan
Weaving her laces as fast as she can.
Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home....