Beneficial Species Spotlight: The Ladybug 

Many of us consider ladybugs to be symbols of good luck. Spotting one might evoke feelings of optimism or a sense of protection. (Whether that protection is for you or your garden is debatable.) 

However, ladybugs aren’t merely cute, spotted critters that evoke nostalgic childhood memories. They’re also the apex predators of the garden world — and extremely beneficial to those looking for ways to rid their gardens of harmful pests. 

Today, we’re exploring five reasons ladybugs have rightfully found themselves in the limelight of our Beneficial Species Spotlight series. 

#1 They Have a Voracious Appetite 

These ruby red insects may look like dainty aristocrats who take their afternoon cuppa with two sugar cubes and a splash of cream, but don’t let their charming, oval-shaped exterior fool you. Ladybugs love to eat. 

While they enjoy the occasional sip of nectar or nibble of pollen, a large portion of their diet consists of consuming unwanted garden pests. In fact, they can devour up to 5,000 insects throughout their lifetime, proving themselves to be an extremely helpful natural form of pest control. 

#2 They Have a Diverse Palate 

Like most humans, many species of ladybugs have a preferred food source. Generally, that’s aphids. Mature ladybugs can consume upwards of 25 aphids each day. This is particularly beneficial for farmers and gardeners, as aphids are small insects known for extracting juices from plant leaves, often leading to discoloration and hindering the plants’ growth. 

However, ladybugs don’t consume aphids exclusively. Most will gladly rid your garden of several other unwanted pests as well, including mealybugs, mites and fruit flies. 

#3 They’re Helpful in All Stages of Life 

Like butterflies, ladybugs go through several stages of metamorphosis. They begin as eggs, progress to larvae and eventually pupae before reaching their final stage in the lifecycle as adults. 

While it’s true that adult ladybugs can feast on two dozen aphids in a day, it’s during the larval stage that their appetite for aphids truly shines. Ladybugs in this early stage of development consume the most aphids, devouring about 10 times more than their mature counterparts. This makes ladybug larvae incredibly useful to individuals seeking natural pest removal strategies for their plants. 

#4 They Attract Other Pollinators 

Ladybugs provide an excellent form of pest control, but they’re also an undervalued member of the unofficial Pollinator Society. Sure, they might not be pollinating as many flowers as bees (okay, they definitely aren’t), but ladybugs do what they can to contribute to the health of garden ecosystems.  

By flying from flower to flower in search of nectar and pollen, unknowingly transferring pollen grains from one flower to the next, ladybugs aid the pollination process. This dual role as both predator and pollinator makes ladybugs a double threat in the realms of gardening and farming and invaluable contributors to garden biodiversity. 

#5 They Indicate a Healthy Ecosystem 

If you notice a ladybug in your vicinity, it’s an excellent indicator that the nearby ecosystem is a thriving one. Maybe that’s why they’re associated with positivity: Their presence signals an ecosystem that’s in harmony. 

But why does the presence of a few ladybugs reflect so highly on the health of a garden? Ladybugs thrive in areas where conditions are favorable for their reproduction. As such, they often select locations where their prey is plentiful and somewhere that provides a suitable environment for nesting. 

Ladybugs, Praying Mantises and Other Natural Pest Repellents — Oh My! 

Whether you’re currently working in the pest industry or you’re simply fascinated by natural pest control methods available and want to learn more, the University of Florida offers several online graduate programs centered around landscape and urban pest management: 

Graduate Degrees 

Our Master of Science is a customizable 30-credit online program, allowing you to earn not only a Master’s Degree in Entomology and Nematology but also a graduate certificate in one of four specializations, including: 

Graduate Certificates 

We also offer four online graduate certificates in the specializations listed above. Each program is 15 credits and can be completed in as little as 12 to 18 months, entirely online. These certificates will give your resume a competitive edge and provide you with the skillset needed to advance your career in whichever branch of entomology fuels your passions. 

Non-Degree Seeking Students 

As a non-degree seeking student, you can choose from a diverse set of courses, selecting a course or two that aligns with your interests. This option is ideal for individuals who’d like to test the waters before diving into a program or professionals seeking advanced knowledge on a particular topic. 

If accepted into our master’s degree or graduate certificate program, you may be eligible to transfer up to 6 credits if you earned a grade of “B” or higher in your completed courses. 

The first step in advancing your career is choosing your online learning path. Browse our program offerings and apply to the option that’s right for you

Sources: 
https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/ladybug 
http://npic.orst.edu/pest/aphid.html  
https://phys.org/news/2018-07-ladybug-aphid-fighters-tend-roam.html

Learn More About the Program

Click for details about the Entomology and Nematology program.