If you are into organic gardens, you should befriend helpful insects like ladybugs. Here, you will find some benefits of ladybugs and how to attract them to your garden.
People also call them ladybirds or lady beetles. Furthermore, they are ideal for natural pest control.
Scientifically, ladybugs are not actual bugs. Indeed, these black-spotted insects belong to the Coccinellidae family.
Additionally, more than 5000 types of ladybugs are available worldwide. North America itself is home to over 200 ladybug species.
However, not all lady beetles are helpful.
The Mexican bean beetle, for example, gorges on plants. It is advisable to stick with native and beneficial ladybugs.
Table of Contents
- Ladybug Benefits
- Garden Pests That Ladybugs Eat
- How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden
- Plants and Flowers That Attract Ladybugs
- Tips on Making Ladybugs Stay in the Garden
- Final Thoughts
Most ladybugs are highly beneficial to farmers and gardeners. So, you need their presence in your organic garden for sure.
Moreover, there are 2 crucial benefits of ladybugs in your garden:
1. Spice Up the Garden
In addition to eliminating destructive plant pests, ladybugs help beautify the garden. Ladybugs possess stunning wings, not to mention that they have attractive colors.
Further, ladybugs give any garden extra beauty. Their vibrant colors keep birds from eating them. Also, the colors signify that they have unpleasant tastes.
Moreover, seeing ladybugs gets people of all ages excited.
2. Act As Pollinators
Talking about the benefits of ladybugs in garden, these insects are pollinators. Their size is tiny, but they make terrific pollinator friends.
Additionally, nectar and pollen are two things that ladybugs love.
When ladybugs roam around flowers, the pollen typically sticks to them. This enables them to pollinate the flowering plants.
Garden Pests That Ladybugs Eat
Inviting helpful ladybugs into a garden is a good call. Unlike chemical pesticides, they do not cause ecological hazards.
Ladybugs are undoubtedly excellent for natural pest control since they have voracious appetites for destructive pests.
Additionally, below are different species of plant pests that ladybugs feed on:
What do ladybugs eat? They dine on harmful insects like spider mites (Tetranychus spp.). Just one ladybug can kill approximately 100 spider mites per day.
Furthermore, as an organic gardener, you can use beneficial ladybugs to eliminate bothersome spider mites naturally.
Ladybugs will find spider mites easily after smelling them and spotting the damage. They then approach the mites and begin eating.
Ladybugs primarily feed on aphids. A ladybug, be it larvae or adult, can consume up to 5000 aphids during its lifetime.
If you dwell in North America, you should entice Hippodamia convergens into your garden. This native ladybug can kill troublesome aphids.
Meanwhile, other types of ladybugs that gorge on aphids are Coleomegilla maculata and Coccinella septempunctata.
The former is a pink-spotted, oval-bodied ladybug. It loves to eat aphids and spider mites. The latter is a Eurasian 7-spotted ladybug that consumes scale insects and aphids.
You can introduce ladybugs after detecting the aphids. This strategy ensures they stay in your garden because they have something to eat.
One of the signs of aphid damage is the presence of sooty mold. You may also see lots of ants on your plants.
Colorado Potato Beetles
If you are dealing with Colorado potato beetles, it is time to lure the ladybugs in. They can kill the larvae and eggs of Colorado potato beetles easily.
Ladybugs are natural predators of Colorado potato beetles. Moreover, they keep these pests from establishing an infestation.
Without a doubt, thrips are one of the destructive insects. Fortunately, ladybugs are great at controlling them.
Hence, you should consider releasing ladybugs in your garden. They will keep the populations of thrips in check for certain.
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is a kind of ladybug. People even nickname it “mealybug destroyer” since this species is effective at destroying and get rid of mealybugs.
The adult females of ladybugs position their eggs among mealybug colonies. When the eggs hatch, the ladybug larvae will gorge on them.
If you are fighting against lace bugs, try introducing ladybugs. They are predatory insects that eat lace bugs.
You can use them to prevent a lace bug infestation, too.
Ladybugs are good at controlling corn borers. Moreover, they can consume 60 corn borer eggs a day.
Utilizing ladybugs to get rid of corn borers is a brilliant idea. They do not eat the larvae and adults of corn borers, though.
The whitefly lady beetle (Delphastus catalinae) helps you to control whitefly populations. Likewise, a tiny ladybug munches on 160 whitefly eggs in a day.
It can eat nearly 700 whitefly larvae in its lifetime, too.
Besides eating the aforementioned pests, ladybugs feed on asparagus beetles (Crioceris asparagi). Further, these insects eliminate them by consuming their larvae and eggs.
Ladybugs are natural enemies of potato psyllids (Bactericera cockerelli). These plant pests are close relatives of leafhoppers and aphids.
Potato psyllids are reminiscent of small cicadas. Therefore, the larvae and adults of ladybugs can eat them voraciously.
How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden
Some people cannot wait for lady beetles to visit their gardens. It is undoubtedly easier to purchase them.
If you wonder where to buy ladybugs for garden, get them from local nurseries. You can order some online, too.
Otherwise, attracting ladybugs is much better than buying them.
Purchasing the ladybugs does not guarantee they will eat the pests since they feel stressed due to the movement.
Foreign lady beetles also can be harmful to the local ecosystem.
Inviting the lady beetles into your garden ensures they will feed on pesky pests. Thus, here are several ways of luring them in.
Create a DIY Watering Station
A water source for ladybugs is very important. Consider placing shallow plates or water bowls around the garden.
Also, add damp paper towels to encourage ladybugs to visit gardens happily.
Fill the water bowls with pebbles or small stones until they reach the top of the bowls. Stones keep the ladybugs from drowning as they drink.
The water source helps quench the thirst of ladybugs. Moreover, the stones ensure they can rest safely.
Grow Decoy Plants for Aphids
If there are not enough pests in the garden, try growing aphid-attracting decoy plants. The trap plants will lure in aphids.
This strategy lets you give the ladybugs plenty of insect pests to dine on. It may sound counterproductive, but it helps attract them.
Growing decoy plants prevent aphids from infesting your favorite plants.
Trap plants that draw in aphids include mustard, hoya, radishes, sunflowers, marigolds, nasturtiums, kale, and early cabbages.
You can attract ladybugs by providing shelter. Therefore, grow groundcover plants like thyme and oregano.
These plants give helpful ladybugs a refuge from their natural enemies. In addition, mulch and leaves make an excellent hideout.
If handmade things are right up your alley, build a DIY ladybug house.
It is only a tiny wooden box with holes. Speaking of attractants, you can use sugar water or raisins.
Moreover, to find out how to attract ladybugs and lacewings, constructing a ladybug house is a good idea.
It will lure in other helpful insects like green lacewings and bees.
Avoid Using Pesticides
Pesticides will exterminate bothersome and beneficial bugs if sprayed directly on them. If you need the presence of ladybugs, refrain from using synthetic pesticides in your garden.
Make sure you use natural insecticides with caution. While some natural pesticides drive ladybugs away from gardens, others can kill them.
Plants and Flowers That Attract Ladybugs
Apart from feeding on insect pests, ladybugs consume pollen and nectar. Therefore, you should grow pollen and nectar-producing plants in your garden.
As long as nectar and pollen are abundant, lady beetles will happily live in the garden.
You have to plant herbs and flowers that bear yellow and white blooms. Make sure they also possess flat foliage.
While the blooms provide nectar and pollen, the flat leaves become ladybugs’ landing pads. Grow some ladybug-friendly plants around the garden and house.
Do not forget to deadhead the plants regularly. By doing so, the flowering plants will keep producing their pollen-rich blooms.
The following plants can turn any garden into a ladybug paradise:
This herbaceous flowering plant thrives in zones 3 to 9. Furthermore, it attains a height of 2-4 feet and a width of 1-1.5 feet.
In addition to bearing yellow flowers, tansy loves partial to full sun. It also performs best in well-drained, fertile soil.
Tansy adapts to the new environment easily because it is not fussy about soil pH. It becomes a noxious weed in some states, though.
The bloom times of garden plants vary greatly. In the North, tansy will not produce blooms until mid-summer.
Gardeners in zones 3 to 8 can grow yarrow. This aromatic perennial plant measures 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
Yarrow produces airy, fern-like leaves and flower heads with flat tops.
Varieties of yarrow come in yellow, purple, orange-red, and pink. You can find the white ones growing along roadsides.
Similar to tansy, this plant needs full sunlight and well-drained soil. However, yarrow can survive in clay soil.
Once established, it becomes drought-tolerant.
Dill is a skinny annual plant that loves full sun. It stands 18 to 40 inches tall. You should give it lose, well-drained soil that lets its long taproot anchor deep below the soil surface.
Besides attracting ladybugs, you can use dill to flavor your fish dishes. It is excellent for pickles, too.
4. Sweet Alyssum
This short filler plant thrives in zones 5-9. People typically consider sweet alyssum as an annual. It attains a width of 6 to 9 inches and measures 4 to 6 inches tall.
Sweet alyssum is a sun-loving garden plant that likes proper drainage. However, it is not challenging to grow.
The white flowering cultivars are very popular.
This perennial plant performs best in zones 4 to 9. You can grow tickseed in partial shade or full sun. Be sure the soil drains nicely.
Tickseed stands 10 to 18 inches high and attains a width of 12-24 inches.
While some varieties are bicolored, others have flowers. The colors of the blooms vary from red to pink to orange.
6. Curly-Leaved Parsley
This biennial culinary herb thrives in zones 2 to 11. Also, it measures 9-12 inches wide and 12-18 inches tall.
Parsley does not need specific sunlight requirements. It likes both partial shade and full sun. The plant is fond of rich and moist soil that drains nicely.
Gardeners can start parsley from seed. You can purchase curly-leaved parsley from a local garden center too.
Place parsley in the ground in late spring.
Make sure there is no danger of frost. Furthermore, if you grow parsley from seed, it will not blossom until its 2nd year.
Mexican recipes typically call for cilantro. This annual herb thrives in partial shade too. Cilantro stands 6 to 10 inches tall and measures 4-10 inches wide.
This plant is fond of rich soil and a bit acidic soil pH. Additionally, the soil must drain excellently.
8. Butterfly Weed
Butterfly weed does not only attract butterflies, but also it becomes a ladybug magnet due to its vibrant orange blooms.
This perennial plant likes full sunlight. Furthermore, it attains a width of 1-1.5 feet and a height of 1 to 2.5 feet.
Butterfly weed is not hard to grow. It can tolerate poor soils that still drain excellently. Moreover, this plant does well in zones 3-9.
Tips on Making Ladybugs Stay in the Garden
After knowing the benefits of ladybugs and how to attract them to your garden, you should find tricks to keep them.
If you buy some ladybugs, you should provide water, shelter, and food.
After getting the ladybugs, put them in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours. This trick will slow lady beetles down.
Do not worry since it will not kill them.
You must let the ladybugs go in the garden right before dawn or after dusk. Release the lady beetles in the right place too.
You can choose a ladybug-friendly flowering plant or an aphid-infested garden plant.
Ladybugs are not mere cute tiny beetles. Gardens can benefit from them. Besides eating pests, they enliven gardens and work as pollinators.
With the incredible tips above, you can draw in ladybugs and successfully keep them in your garden.
Also, you will reap the benefits of attracting them during the summertime.