When it's Cold + The Ladybugs Come Out to Play

Every Monday, the horticulture department hosts Beetle Battle in the Treasures of the Rainforest exhibit. During the experience, you can help us by releasing ladybug onto plants. The ladybug travel throughout the exhibit to feed upon pest insects, such as aphids, that can ultimately weaken or kill the plants.

Ladybugs are an example of a beneficial insect, an insect that perform valuable tasks such as pollination or pest control. Using these beneficial insects is an excellent way to control pests without having to resort to chemical pesticides. There are several types of ladybeetles found in the world, and the majority are beneficial.

Over its lifetime, a ladybeetle can eat several thousand aphids. We release adult ladybugs in hopes that they will mate, lay eggs, and reach the larval stage (which is the most voracious stage of a ladybeetle’s life). The larval stage of a ladybug resembles a tiny colorful alligator. They feed on aphids, but also other soft-bodied pest such as mealybug, soft scale, and whitefly.

We release convergent ladybugs once a week during Beetle Battle, with larger populations (500-1000) released by a horticulturist as needed.

During the summer months, homeowners can release ladybugs in their garden, as beneficial insects are sold in local plant nurseries. Better yet, there are ways that you can make your yard more hospitable to beneficial insects, and they’ll come to you!

  • Limit pesticide use.
  • Plant a variety of blooms and vegetation in your yard, in large, dense sections. Choose plants that flower at different times to provide nectar and pollen throughout the year.
  • Using native plants will be particularly attractive to native insects.
  • A bird bath or small water feature will benefit both birds and insects.
  • When doing fall yardwork, leave a section of perennials unpruned or a section of leaves unraked, to provide plant material for insects to overwinter within.

Beetle Battle: A Ladybug Release Experience is held on Mondays at 12:45 in the Treasures of the Rainforest exhibit.