How To Attract Ladybugs To Your Garden

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This article provides helpful tips for attracting ladybugs to your garden
by Brett · All Zones · Insects · 2 Comments · August 24, 2015 · 3,633 views

Many gardeners are looking for natural solutions - which don't involve the use of pesticides - to eliminate harmful pest insects in their landscape and gardens. One natural solution is to use beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, which will feed on and eliminate pest insects such as aphids. And using beneficial insects is a great, natural solution - and one that works!

So you're out browsing around your gardens and you notice the leaves on your riverbirch tree and the squash plants in your vegetable garden are curling and looking deformed. You look on the undersides of these leaves for the culprit and there they are - little green bugs everywhere.

So you go online and type "What are the little green bugs on my squash plant leaves" and find out they are aphids. Now you go back to the search and type in "How to kill aphids in the garden" and find articles touting the use of this or that insecticide. But, since the aphids are on plants that will end up on your dining room table you'd rather go the natural route. So you go back to the search and type in "Natural or organic ways to control aphids." Now you might find a number of companies promoting and selling bulk quantities of live ladybugs you can release in your garden to eat all the aphids that are attacking your plants. Sounds like a great idea, right? Read on.

Before you buy Ladybugs...

There are both land-based and online sources offering bulk quantities of ladybugs that you can purchase and release on your property. However, before you run out and buy them, there's a few things to consider:

1. Ladybugs that are commercially sold on the market are wild-caught from places all over the world. These exotic ladybugs often carry and can transmit harmful parasites and viruses to our local, native ladbybug populations. Research indicates that up to 15% of the harvested ladybugs carry an internal parasite called Dinocampus coccinellae. At the same time many of them are also infected with Microsporidia, which is a disease that shortens the ladybugs lifespan and reduces the number of eggs laid by the females. This poses a threat to the natural ecosystem that many folks are unaware of.

2. Ladybugs are flying insects. After releasing store-bought exotic ladybugs on your property there is no guarantee they will stick around. Typically, you cannot keep the ladybugs around unless you cage them on the plant and/or have pollen producing flowers around that will compel them to hang around to feed on.

3. Wild-caught ladybugs are often harvested while in hibernation so wont be ready when you release them in your garden to feed on pest insects.

4. The non-native ladybugs can also be voracious predators that can decimate native ladybug populations by eating them out of house and home. The Asian variety has become a pest that overwinter in large numbers inside homes.

With these facts taken into consideration, my recommendation would be to avoid the store-bought ladybugs and opt for using methods to attract local ladybugs in your area to your gardens.

Best ways to attract native ladybugs...

Plants - Many ladybugs feed on pollen as part of their diet as adults. So, planting certain types of flowers ladybugs are attracted to will help to increase populations in your garden. Planting heavy pollen producing plants such as sunflowers and other aster-family flowers: marigolds, coneflowers, calendula, cosmos, chrysanthemums, and herbs like cilantro, dill, and chamomile is very helpful to attract ladybugs as well as many other types of beneficial insects. Other flowering plants such as yarrow, Queen Anne's Lace, and sweet alyssum can be helpful to attract ladybugs as well.

Water - Ladybugs like and need water. A muddy puddling spot or a bird bath with stones or cork in it can serve as resting places for ladybugs.

Beware the Pesticides! - If you want ladybugs around it's best to avoid using chemical pesticides in your garden, which will not only kill the pest insects but the ladybugs too! Even organic pesticides aren't totally safe and can adversely effect ladybugs. If there are no ladybugs or other beneficial insects in your garden and you feel you must use a pesticide use one containing neem oil. Make sure to spray neem oil at times when beneficial insects are not active in the garden: early morning or late evening is best, Too, avoid spraying the flowers on plants that butterflies, bees and beloved ladybugs visit!

Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Great information I wasn't aware of. Several times I have pruchased ladybugs only to have them stay around for a day or so. Even with plenty of food (aphids) around on several plants most of these store bought critters left for one reason or another. Last year I found a large amount of ladybugs on several of my neighbors plants and filled a couple of jars full of them. After releasing them in my yard last year I am still noticing many more of them in my yard this year than other years. Although there isn't many aphids this year they must still be feeding on the pollen of my flowers like this article mentions. These native or local ladybugs definitely stayed around unlike the ones I purchased that are most likely far away in Georgia by now. I noted a link to another article that will show what the ugly alligator looking ladybug larvae look like. Many may not know these are the ladybugs larvae and may smash them when seen in the garden not realizing these are beneficial. They actually eat more of the harmful insects that the adults do.

8 years ago ·
1 Green Thumbs Up
· Unthumb · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Hey John - Rather than add the info about the larvae I'll link to your article from this article:-)

8 years ago ·
1 Green Thumbs Up
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