Since Marta Gladden’s granddaughter, London, was born, she has been grandma’s ladybug.

Needless to say, the family made their way to the Mountain Vista Club at Vistancia Wednesday morning for the release of 100,000 ladybugs.

“We have her in her outfit,” Gladden said. “We have all her blankets and things. We’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.”

Gladden, her two grandchildren and great-grandmother Katy Peterson, were among dozens of toddlers and Vistancia Elementary School second-graders who came together to learn about ladybugs and the good they do for the environment in the north Peoria retirement community.

Kathy Ganem, who teaches one of those second-grade classes, said her students have been excited in anticipation of Wednesday’s event.

“They think this is the coolest thing ever,” she said. “They spend all recess looking for ladybugs, so to have so many in one place is just too cool.”

“It’s good for them to learn why ladybugs are so beneficial,” she said. “My students are always trying to sneak ladybugs into class. Kids just love ladybugs.”

Ladybugs act as an environmentally friendly means of controlling the insect population and keeping plants healthy. A single ladybug can eat more than 60 aphids per day and 5,000 in a lifetime.

In the spring, adult ladybugs will lay as many as 300 eggs in an aphid colony, where the larvae will feed on aphids for up to three weeks. Up to six generations of ladybugs may be hatched in a single year.

Tracy Carsey and another mother walked their children to the ladybug release after reading about it in the newspaper. As Carsey watched her young ones run around, she noticed even she had managed to get covered with ladybugs. Carsey and her children just laughed.

“I think we’re all going home with a bunch of ladybugs in our hair,” she said.

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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