Image by Jeremy Vandel
By Heather Rhoades
Attracting ladybugs is one of the top wishes for many organic gardeners. Ladybugs in the garden will help to eliminate destructive pests like aphids, mites and scale. Getting ladybugs to come to your garden and, more importantly, stay in your garden is easy once you know a few simple facts and tricks.
How to Attract Ladybugs to the Garden
The number one thing that will help attract ladybugs to your yard is food. Ladybugs eat two things, pest insects and pollen. They need both of these things to survive and when these things are in abundance in your garden, they will happily relocate to your garden.
There are several plants that ladybugs like to eat the pollen from. The blooms on these plants normally have flat flowers (like landing pads) and tend to be white or yellow. Flowers that attract ladybugs are:
- Sweet Alyssum
The other half of getting ladybugs to come to your garden is to make sure they have enough bugs to eat. While it may seem counterproductive, leaving aphids and other pests alone will help with attracting ladybugs. It may be helpful to plant decoy plants that will attract and provide aphids while you keep your desired plants bug free until the ladybugs come to do it for you. Plants that can be used as aphid attracting decoy plants include:
Another thing you can do to help bring ladybugs to the garden is to eliminate using insecticides. Insecticides will kill ladybugs the same as they will kill harmful bugs. Placing shallow plates of water for ladybugs to drink out will also help attract ladybugs. You can also build ladybug houses to provide shelter for your ladybugs.
Tips for Keeping Ladybugs in the Garden
Sometimes, rather than wait for ladybugs to appear in our garden, it is easier and faster to simply purchase some ladybugs. The problem then becomes how do we keep the ladybugs we just purchased in our garden after we release them.
First, realize that the same things that you do to attract ladybugs will also help keep ladybugs in your yard. Making sure that there is food, shelter and water will go a long way to making your garden look like a good place to settle down and lay eggs (which means more ladybugs).
Second, you need to help give yourself a day or so to convince the ladybugs that your garden is a good place to live. When you receive your ladybugs, place them in the fridge for a 6-8 hours. This will slow them down (but will not kill them) and keep them from flying right off when you open the container.
Third, make sure you release them at the right time. Twilight hours are the best time to release ladybugs as, again, they will be likely to fly off. Right after dusk or right before dawn is the perfect time to let your ladybugs go.
Fourth, release the ladybugs in the right place. The easier you make it for them to find food and water, the faster they will figure out your yard is where they should stay. Choose either an aphid infested plant or one of the flowering plants that ladybugs like. Gently water the plant so that the leaves have water on them. Then, release the ladybugs near it.
With these tips, attracting and keeping ladybugs in your garden can be a snap. You can enjoy the benefits of attracting ladybugs all summer long.