How to Raise Lady Bugs

My journey as guardian to a loveliness of lady beetles started in preparation for a giving a Master Gardener talk on recognizing beneficial insects in the home garden. Five minutes before leaving home, I still needed a live lady beetle or two as little living props. Lady beetles are always hanging around the yarrow (achillea millefolium island pink). In short order I had two different species in a mason jar and as an added bonus collected a clutch of lady beetle eggs on a twig. For the uninitiated, lady beetle eggs are a translucent rich golden yellow, shaped like the smallest of chicken eggs, and glued standing on end in tightly packed clutches of 50 or more.

Ladybug eggs on Achillea millefolium 'Island Pink'
Lady beetle eggs on Achillea millefolium ‘Island Pink’–but not the exact eggs this post is about.

After the presentation I released the adults back into the wild, but decided to hold on to the eggs in order to get a good photo using the digital microscope at the office. A shallow mason jar covered with organza* and then a canning ring made a safe temporary home. Two days later when I pulled the jar out for the photos shoot, I was dismayed to find that the lovely eggs had changed color to a pale olive green. Had I killed them?

Under the microscope the truth was revealed: they were hatching!

*Why organza? It allows air flow, is very sheer, and is a much finer mesh than window screen. As a synthetic, it is easy to clean. Plus, I had some on hand in an appropriate shade of pale pink.

To be continued.