• Jonathan Shiek

These Random Facts About Ladybirds Now Live Rent-free In My Head

Perhaps the coolest, yet most mind-boggling #FACT I learned after becoming a plant parent is the fact that people buy ladybirds off ebay

Yeah, I’m talking the living, breathing insects. Sold in a bag. Now before you go all PETA on me, the seller did clarify that 1,500 of these guys only come up to about ⅓ of a cup coz they’re so smol.

#Fact 2: The reason people buy ladybirds is that they are a pretty awesome natural pest control. They feed on pests such as mealybugs, aphids, and mites. Even its eggs and larvae. When one owns some hundreds of houseplants, one generally does not have time to check them one by one for pests. So, one buys ladybirds online and sets them free inside the house to take care of that. And c’mon, randomly finding ladybirds on leaves around your house? Talk about aesthetic.

And this happens on a larger scale, too. Farms are known to use ladybirds to ensure the health of their crops. Out of over 5,000 species of coccinellidae beetles, most do not feed on plants, but instead prey on other pests that are attracted to plants. 

But there are some that will cause damage to crops, and even those who feed on each other.

#Fact 3: This cannibalistic trait in ladybugs is especially notorious in the Harlequin or Asian Ladybird. Initially brought over from eastern Asia, it is now a common sight in Europe, North and South America, and Africa. It is considered one of the most invasive insects worldwide. I also learned they have a habit of invading homes as winter approaches and causes discomfort as they leave a scent and have a tendency to bite people.

MOST IMPORTANT Fact # 4: Contrary to popular belief, not ALL ladybugs are female! They can be either female or male. It is difficult to determine the sex of a ladybug, but females tend to be larger than males.

“Stop stereotyping me! I’m more than cute and I WILL BITE”.

#Fact 5: Ladybug Spots Are a Warning to Predators, Not Their Age A ladybug’s spots are a warning to predators, not how old they are. This color combination—black and red or orange—is known as aposematic coloration.

Ladybugs aren’t the only insects that use aposematic coloration to discourage predators. Just about any black and red/orange insect you can find is signaling the same thing to predators: “Stay away! I taste terrible!” The monarch butterfly is probably the best-known example of an insect using aposematic coloration. The spots are just part of the ladybug’s clever color scheme.

Sadly in cities like KL, ladybirds are such a rare sight. I’m guessing it’s due to developments and the widespread use of pesticides. It would be cool to be able to start a colony in my garden, but this needs to be carefully researched. 

#gardening #animals #bugs #pets #ladybugs #insects #flowers

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