Risk in buying ladybug?

Asked April 7, 2019, 7:02 PM EDT

Hi - Since my lupine was attacked by aphids last year and I saw only one ladybug show up late in the game, I was excited to see little mesh satchets of ladybugs I could just buy in the garden center of my local grocery (a Fred Meyer). But living in Wisconsin I learned to regard an Asian variety as an invasive, which now in Wikipedia I see were brought to N America on purpose for biological control purposes...much like the purpose that motivates people like me to plunk down money at the grocery for baggies of generically labelled ladybugs. Should I worry about what comes in these little bags and go back to just waiting for Mrs Right Bug to arrive?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Lady bugs are great aphid predators. Creating conditions that keep them in your yard might be more effective in the long run than buying and releasing them. This is because the new lady bugs won't yet have found a home with you and will probably just fly off. Also, as you mentioned the purchased lady bugs may be the Asian lady bug (Harmonia Axyridis) Asian Lady Beetle https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect/structural-health/nuisance-household/nuisance-household-lady-beetle. This lady bug has been displacing our native lady bugs.

There are several native lady bugs, but the most common one we see is the converging ladybug (Hippodamia convergens) (Lady Beetle https:/ catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1604.pdf. This article has pictures of the lady bug, and of the larval form, which is quite distinctive. If you see the larva in a group of aphids, it's a very good sign. The article also has good suggestions to help make your yard a good home to lady bugs.

Lady bugs eat other insects, of course, but they also eat pollen, so having good sources of pollen available will help them. Some good sources are angelica, calendula, sweet alyssum, marigold, dill, and others mentioned in this article, Tips to Encourage Lady Bugs in Your Garden https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/beneficial/attract-ladybugs.htm. Eliminate insecticides, provide a shallow source of water, and maybe create a small debris pile as a home. Your lupines will certainly appreciate your efforts.