Many gardeners have heard that ladybugs might be positive additions to their gardens, but may not fully understand why. Furthermore, they may even have a NEED for ladybugs, but don’t know how to attract them or keep them around once they’ve arrived. Perhaps you’ve purchased ladybugs from your local garden center, only to release them and watch them fly away somewhere else.
This confusion leaves many gardeners with gardens full of “bad bugs” like aphids and mites, and in need of a healthy, natural solution.
If you’re looking for a solution on how to keep aphids and mites away from your garden in a safe, natural, organic way – ladybugs are the answer. This guide will teach you how to not only attract them, but keep them there. We also discuss how to remove ladybugs once they’ve outstayed their welcome.
Why You Should Want Ladybugs in Your Garden
Ladybugs for Garden Pest Control
Ladybugs help control insects like aphids that can damage your garden. In fact, ladybugs are one of the most effective predatory insects around – and love to make a meal out of the bad ones. In particular, aphids, mites, and scale. If you’re looking for how to get rid of aphids in a natural way, introducing ladybugs to your garden (and keeping them there) is the answer.
Remember that good bugs are living creatures and they will want to be where they are most comfortable. The way you keep ladybugs around is simple if you know what you’re doing. Treat them right, provide them what they’re looking for, and they’ll stay on patrol guarding your plants and keeping your garden free of bad bugs for as long as you need them.
How to Attract Ladybugs
Ladybugs are no different than other animals or insects. They’re a living thing, and like all living things, they are more likely to remain in your garden if the conditions are right to keep them happy. Be sure there is water in your garden in addition to food sources. Either turn on your sprinklers frequently, or consider having very small “bowls” of water – these could be bowl-shaped rocks that water can collect in. Don’t expect a bug to be able to get water from a bird feeder or anything significantly larger than themselves without drowning!
What do Ladybugs Eat?
Ladybugs love to eat other insects. Their favorites just so happen to be destructive pests like aphids, mites, and scale. Besides pests, they’re also interested in nectar and pollen. So, if you can’t provide them bugs to eat, there are still ways to attract them by introducing pollen-producing plants.
Plants and Flowers That Attract Ladybugs
It is important to provide ladybugs with an alternative food source when meals of pest insects are scarce. Flowers produce nectar and pollen, which ladybugs also need to survive. Plan your garden to feed beneficial insects by choosing a variety of plants that will bloom as many months of the year as possible.
There are many plants that attract ladybugs, but some we would recommend include
Don’t be surprised if the ladybugs leave after they have removed all your bad insects, though.
They will only stick around for as long as there is a good food source in your garden. Which brings us to our next point…
Make a Ladybug Feeder
You may be interested in keeping ladybugs around for reasons beyond pest control (maybe you just love the way they look). They are pretty cute, we wouldn’t blame you. Consider making a ladybug feeder! This will ensure they stick around your garden consistently. If and when those pesky bad bugs DO return, you’ll have security guards on call 24/7!
How to Release Ladybugs
When you’ve brought your ladybugs back home, it is best to release them in the evening just after the sun has gone down, and just after you have watered the garden. This will help keep them in the garden, as typically they are dehydrated upon their release and won’t be able to go far. If there is water aplenty, they’ll be motivated to stick around and make themselves at home. Then, assuming they find a food source, they’ll know that this is paradise they’ve been dreaming of, and there’s no place they’d rather fly off to!
It is also better to release ladybugs in small batches all around your garden rather than in one big group; otherwise they might start fighting for territory.
How to Get Rid of Ladybugs
If you have a “ladybug problem” (if that exists), and you have a good reason for wanting them gone from your garden, it’s a matter of simply removing their food sources and they’ll soon fly away to seek a new home. To remove ladybugs from your garden, simply remove plants that create pollen from your garden, or reduce sources of water.
We always strongly advise gardeners to avoid using pesticides to remove insects. Yes, they’ll kill the ladybugs, but they’ll potentially ruin your entire little ecosystem by introducing harmful chemicals to the mix. It might be tempting to solve the problem quickly with chemicals, but for the sake of the rest of your plants, do it in a way that doesn’t harm the balance you’ve achieved. The rest of your garden will continue to flourish and thank you.