Backyard Critters: Lady Bugs

Ladybugs live in gardens around the world, and they are often welcome visitors, since they eat agricultural pests like aphids. Technically, a ladybug is a beetle, not a bug.

One of the easiest plants I know to grow for ladybugs is cilantro. It produces a nice flower that attracts the ladybugs and it reseeds in the spring. Beneficial insects are often attracted to plants with tiny white flowers. Flowers and herbs such as dill, fennel, caraway, yarrow, tansy, angelica, scented geraniums, are also good choices for luring the ladybug. Early-blooming mustard flowers attract adults in search of food. You may also want to plant some tulips and/or lilies and other cup-shaped flowers around. The ladybugs love this bloom shape due to the fact that these blooms capture water and keep things inside them somewhat cool. Thus, ladybugs like to make their homes in them.

Tolerate light aphid outbreaks in spring, because they are an important food source for ladybugs. The young larvae, black with orange markings, eat more pests than the adults, and they can't fly. On average a ladybug can eat up to fifty aphids a day. Do not use pesticides of any kind when lady beetles larvae are active.

If you struggle to attract ladybugs to your garden you can always buy them from a local gardening store and introduce them to your pre-made ladybug haven. Plan on setting them out there on a cool night, in fact you can refrigerate the bugs for a couple hours to slow them down before setting them out. Keep the plants wet for a few days after introducing the polka-dotted pretties, in order to stop them from migrating and to encourage them to make their home in your garden. By the next season you could have any where upwards of three generations of ladybugs making their home in your vegetable patch.


Related: Attracting Wildlife: Dead Trees

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08.07.13  12:00PM    KAREN B

Categories: backyard habitat,gardening

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