Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lady Bugs

I just posted some cool info over @ The Best Nest about where one can purchase ladybugs for natural aphid control. I love the legend of the ladybug (family Coccinellidae) and I thought A Catholic Notebook was the perfect place to record it. Here it is:

This legend begins in Europe during the Middle Ages, a time when castles were in fashion. Much of the land that surrounded a castle belonged to the lord of that castle.

This was during a time in history when there were no grocery stores, pizza delivery or restaurants. The lord of the castle had many serfs who farmed the land. Serfs (btw) were servants owned by the lord for a period of time - sometimes their whole lives. That sure makes one think twice before complaining about house rules within a family!

One very unfortunate year a horde of insects descended upon the land. The voracious insects chomped their way across fields and orchards, leaving nothing but devastation in their wake.

Everything the serfs and lords did to get rid of the insects did not work! Think about that for a minute -- no crops meant no food & that meant starvation and death! Fearful that all their food crops would be destroyed, the people prayed to the Virgin Mary for help.

In answer to their prayers, a host of red and black beetles appeared. The beetles made a feast of the invading insects, gobbling them up in huge numbers until at last the crops were saved.

From that day forward the serfs and all the lords and ladies called their winged rescuers “Beetles of Our Lady.” “Our Lady,” as you know, is one way we still (to this day) refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Over time the name was shortened to “Lady Beetles” and the cute little critters became known as “Ladybugs” here in the United States.

More information for you budding scientists out there:

To this day ladybugs are still welcomed by farmers and gardeners alike. These shiny little insects are less than a 1/4 inch long and their favorite picnic lunch includes a menu of garden pests such as aphids and mealy bugs. One tiny ladybug can polish off 100 aphids in a day!

There are over 4,000 types of ladybugs and they can be found all over the world. Here in the United States they are usually red with black spots, though you’ll also find yellow or orange ones with black spots and black ones with red spots. Some ladybugs have no spots at all!

When you look at the colorfully spotted back of a ladybug you are actually looking at a pair of modified wings that are hard, shell-like covers. They are called the elytras and they protect the ladybug’s fragile flying wings.

The elytras are made of chitin, the same strong protein that forms our fingernails. When the ladybug wants to take off, the elytras open up to allow the hidden flying wings to move into flying position. During flight, a ladybug beats its wings 85 times a second!

Ladybugs hibernate during the autumn and winter. They find cozy hideaways under logs, at the base of grass blades or under piles of leaves that protect them from the cold. As the spring sun warms them they start to crawl out and up stalks of plants or blades of grass, hungry for a meal of aphids.

Once they’ve found a good-sized colony of aphids, the lady ladybugs lay 10 to 50 eggs in little clusters. The eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days and the little ladybug larvae have a ready food supply. The larvae, however, don’t look a thing like a ladybug. In fact they’re a lot more like teeny, deep blue, six-legged alligators with orange spots. They munch away for about 2 to 3 weeks and then wrap themselves up in a cocoon.

When the ladybug emerges from its cocoon about 7 to 10 days later, it finally looks like a ladybug, except that it doesn’t have any spots. It takes another 24 hours for the spots to appear.

When threatened, a ladybug will play dead. But if a bird or another insect is foolish enough to attack, the ladybug releases a smelly and nasty tasting chemical from all 6 of its leg sockets. Works like a charm!

Want even more cool info?

OK! This is what the little bug is called in other parts of the world.
If you can add to this list let us know in the comment box! :-)

"Glückskäfer" -- Austria
"Slunécko" - Czechoslovakia
"Mariehøne" -- Denmark
"LadyBird" -- England
"Leppäkerttu" -- Finland
"Coccinelle" -- France
"Marienkafer" -- Germany
"Paskalitsa" -- Greece
"Parat Moshe Rabenu" -- Hebrew
"Lieveheersbeestje" -- Holland
"Katicabogár" -- Hungary
"Coccinella" -- Italy
"Tentou Mushi" -- Japan
"Da'asouqah" -- Jordan
"Mudangbule" -- Korea
"Mara" -- Latvia
"Kumbang" -- Malaysia
"Mariehøne" -- Norway
"Biedronka" -- Poland
"Joaninha" -- Portugal
"Buburuzã" -- Romania
"Bosya Kopovka" -- Russia
"Pikapolonica" -- Slovania
"Mariquita" -- Spain
"Nykelpiga" -- Sweden
"Ugurböcegi" -- Turkey
"Ladybug" -- United States
"Ilsikazana Esincane" -- Zulu

1 comment:

Jody said...

This is a cute article.

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