Ladybugs. Lady beetles. Asian multicolored lady beetle. Japanese ladybug. Harmonia axyridis. Whatever your favorite name for these insects, there is no denying that this has been a good spring in Central Illinois for these coccinellid beetles.
Originally imported from Asia into the United States as a predator for aphids on agricultural crops, this introduced species has become the dominant lady beetle on the continent, shoving native species to the side. In this area of the country, they are the primary form of biological control against soybean aphids and a boon to the agricultural community.
Normally, we don't see many lady beetles in town until after the aphid populations have died down in the fall, and these red speckled creatures fly to find overwintering spots in our homes and buildings. But this spring, as I've walked around the Illinois campus the past few weeks, I've seen them everywhere.
I understand why not everyone is a fan of these beautiful insects, but I must admit that I'm quite partial to them and hope they keep joining us each and every spring.