These alligator-like insects are the larvae (i.e. immature) stage of ladybugs. Although they look dangerous, ladybug larvae are quite harmless to humans. After feeding on insect prey for several weeks, the larva turns into an adult. Both the adults and larvae are very beneficial insects. They are natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other sap feeders. A single ladybug may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime!
Ladybugs play an important role in managing some insect pests in crops and landscapes. Here are some things that you can do to maximize their impact.
- Learn to recognize the different stages of these beneficial insects.
- Make insecticide applications only when necessary and use selective insecticides or limited treatments to avoid killing lady beetles.
- Add plants that can provide pollen and nectar for lady beetles. These are important components of the diets of some species.