Who doesn’t love ladybugs?
These easily recognizable, friendly little insects are yellow, orange, or scarlet and have small black spots on their wings.
The benefits of having ladybugs in your garden include being able to cut back on pesticides and ridding your flower beds of aphids and other insect pests.
Also known as lady beetles or ladybirds, the ladybug can be your best friend as a gardener and attracting them into your yard or garden will add to the beauty and joy of making your garden unique.
But if you want to attract ladybugs to your garden, you’ll have to do a few things first to start your own successful ladybug garden.
Read on to learn how to get ladybugs to love your garden.
You can purchase ladybugs online or at a local nursery and release them to start a ladybug garden.
How to Identify Ladybugs
The ladybird has an oval body and the color can vary from yellow to orange or bright red. The black spots on the wing covers also vary in number and size and a few species, such as the twice stabbed lady beetle are even solid black.
Ladybug larvae are not so easy to recognize, but have six legs and are usually blue-black with orange spots. Learn to spot the larvae so you do not accidentally spray them with insecticide or crush them thinking they might be aphid or other insect larvae.
Lady beetles like to feed primarily on soft-body and scale insects like aphids; a ladybug can eat as many as five-thousand aphids during its lifespan. A female may lay fifty to three-hundred eggs at a time, which take three to five days to hatch. Larvae take about two to three weeks before pupating into adult ladybugs.
Typically we think of ladybugs as being orange or red, but yellow or black species can also be found in some gardens, depending your climate and location.How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden
Besides eating aphids, lady beetles are depend on pollen as a food source and seek certain types of flowering plants, including dill, cilantro, yarrow, wild carrot, angelica, cosmos, geraniums and dandelions.
So, to create your ladybug garden, you will want to research these plants further and be sure to plant them in your garden if you don’t have them already!
Other methods you can use to attract ladybugs include cutting back or ceasing the use of insecticides in your garden. By leaving aphids, you not only provide the ladybug population with the food source upon which it thrives, but you also avoid killing any of the larvae. Remember that the ladybugs will provide a natural check against the aphids, keeping them under control.
What you will need to start your ladybug garden:
- Garden Hose
- Nozzles and attachments
- Flowering Plants (see above for some favorite species)
Instructions for starting your ladybug garden:
- You can buy ladybugs at your local nursery or online. This will help to get your ladybug population established. Research has proven that ladybugs reared indoors can not survive when released outdoors, so be sure you buy wild ladybugs collected from the outdoors only.
- Keep your ladybugs moist with a few drops of water and place them in your refrigerator vegetable crisper until you release them. This will also slow them down a bit since they will be cooler.
- In the afternoon or early evening, water your garden well in preparation; this gives them much needed hydration and helps them stick better to the plants. Its best to release your ladybugs after the sun sets to help prevent birds from eating them before they are able to settle into your garden.
- After resting overnight and re-hydrating a bit, your ladybugs will be ready to start eating those aphids. If you have any plants that are infested with the aphids, place a bit of netting over the plants and let some of your ladybugs loose under it, where they will happily gobble up those pests!
While ladybugs eat mainly aphids and scale insects, they also depend on pollen as a food source.
- The black spots on their wings fade as they age
- Ladybug wings move very quickly, like a hummingbird’s, as much as 85 times per second in flight
- A ladybug can live for up to three years
- The male ladybug is smaller than the female
- Long ago, doctors used mashed-up ladybugs to cure toothaches
- The Swiss call ladybugs “Good God’s Little Fairy”
- The Ladybug is the state insect in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, Tennessee and Ohio