Last Sunday, May 20, Sunnylands Gardens in Rancho Mirage, California had “Ladies Day“, a day devoted to Lady Beetles. The day featured arts, crafts, stories and science education all related to Lady Beetles. The event included the release of 200,000 Lady Beetles. The Gardens have released an estimated 1 million Lady Beetles since March of this year.
My initial thought was, “Bad news if you are an aphid”. Lady Beetles will eat aphids and other small insect prey. Local (augmentative) releases can temporarily reduce the population of aphids and other small insects to low levels. Gardeners might like Lady Beetles to patrol their plants to eliminate all aphid intruders. However, if aphids are not very abundant, Lady Beetles must disperse or starve. Gardens must sustain a healthy aphid population to sustain a healthy Lady Beetle population. For a longer term effect on aphid populations, Lady Beetle populations need to establish and reproduce in balance with aphid populations, or the population must be continually augmented and Lady Beetles released periodically.