What's with All these LadyBugs?

The lobby at the Renfrew Park Community Centre is rockin' the ladybug motif! Hi! I'm Madame Beespeaker, leader of a team of artists and creative folks who are going to help your community bloom all year long! I'm best known for my efforts to help save our native bees, but I'm diversifying my portfolio, so I've been doing some research on other insects.

 Did you know ladybugs are considered a symbol of good luck in many cultures. Even better, if one lands on you and you take the time to count the spots before it flies off, you have passed the ladybug test and you'll have even better luck!!!!
There is a story from Europe that a plague of pests was ravaging the crops in the Middle Ages. When farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary, swarms of ladybugs came to the rescue. They ate the pests and saved the crops. So the Brits named the beetles after “Our Mary” and dropped “bug” because of the negative connotations of that b-word.
These beetles are in the order Coleoptera in the Coccinelladae family. There are about 4, 500 species of ladybugs in the world!!! They are beetles, but not “true bugs”.

The Harlequin ladybug, introduced for IPM is displacing native species of ladybugs in North America. It can be ID-ed by the M shape on the pronotum. 

 This is a Harlequin ladybug on some borage (Borago officinalis) in my garden.

This species loves to hibernate in our antiquated house and so our son wanted to adopt one and try to keep it as a pet. Not everyone is so fond of sharing scores of ladybugs with their living space. Better them than the marmorated stink bug, I say! Did you know the a group of the critters is called a "loveliness" of ladybirds? I can guarantee that  a group of stink bugs however, is not called a loveliness.

This is a photo of a ladybug laying eggs in a cardoon plant. The larva hatch and eat the aphids that attack the plant.

I was delighted to find a citizen science program called The Lost Ladybug ProjectThey are looking for people to find our rare 9-spotted ladybug. If you see one, you can send a photo in to the researchers so they can track the populations of this native species.

Plants like fennel, hops and yarrow attract ladybugs to your garden. Native lupins and bleeding heart are also great host plants. You'll find that when the aphids move in to your garden, the ladybugs are sure to follow. No need to buy them, just create a welcoming environment and the cavalry will arrive when they are needed.

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