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Lady Bugs & The Holidays

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Lady Beetles (commonly referred to as ladybugs) are small, beneficial creatures.  They are typically red or orange, with black polka-dotted markings.  Some cultures consider these highly identifiable pests as lucky. That is not the case, however when it comes to most of our clients as our firm will routinely receive requests from home owners, tenants and building managers during the winter months, to inspect and determine why they seemingly have an infestation.  We usually start seeing the colorful beetles in November and are called upon to address their presence through January.  Inevitably, what our team will find is a fresh delivery of poinsettia plants, which often turns out to be a Trojan horse.

Why are lady beetles associated with poinsettia plants?  To understand that, we need to understand the following: Integrated Pest Management may be all the rage when it comes to pest management in homes and commercial structures, but it actually started in the agricultural industry well before it was introduced to and by pest management firms.  Why spray a bunch of pesticides in and around your farm, when you can alter the surrounding ecology, making the area inhospitable to plant predators and crop killers.  Lady Beetles are beneficial in both adult and larval stages, feeding primarily on aphids. They can also feed on mites, smaller insects, and eggs of other insects if need be.  Farmers will release the beetles into their crops in the hopes that the beetles will keep their crops from becoming overrun by aphids.  If the crop is an indoor crop, the farmer has the added benefit of keeping these tiny protectors in a localized area.  If a farmer has an outdoor crop, he or she may need to release a new batch as often as every few days.

We can thank the farmers for the added business, though if it were up to us, we would let the beetles be.  In the words of some other famous beetles (Beatles): “Let it be, let it be, oh yes, let it be.”

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