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 sticking around once there. Perhaps you’ve purchased ladybugs from your local nursery, only to release them and watch them fly away somewhere else that they’d rather be.
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. And, as an extra bonus, how to remove ladybugs once they’ve outstayed their welcome.
Why You Should Want Ladybugs in Your Garden
How to Get Rid of Aphids – Ladybugs for Pest Control
Ladybugs help control bad insects, like aphids. In fact, ladybugs are one of the most effective predatory insects around – and love to make a meal out of bad ones. In particular, aphids, mites, and scale. We can not emphasize enough the importance of not introducing chemical pesticides to your garden. If you’re looking for how to get rid of aphids, introducing ladybugs to your garden (and keeping them there) is the answer.
Remember that good bugs are living creatures and they have feelings, too. 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 there is a ready supply of food and water, and 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 themselves !
Ladybug Foods – What do Ladybugs Eat?
Ladybugs love to eat other pests. 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 there by planting 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
If you are 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. If and when those pesky bad bugs DO return, then you’ll have security guards on call 24/7!
Where to Buy Ladybugs and How to Release Them
Your neighborhood nursery should sell ladybugs. If you happen to live in the Pacific Northwest, visit us at our Portland Nursery and Garden Center in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood.
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 them in small batches all around your garden rather than in one big group; otherwise, they might get all huffy and start duking it out for the territory.
How to Get Rid of Ladybugs
Remember what we said in the beginning of this article – Ladybugs are living creatures, and like all living creatures, they will flourish when there is plenty of food and water. If you have a “ladybug problem” (if that exists), and you have a presumably 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 place where they can find it.
To remove ladybugs from your garden, remove plants that create pollen from your garden.
We always strongly advise to NEVER use pesticides in your garden. Yes, they’ll kill the ladybugs, but they’ll potentially ruin your entire little ecosystem, by introducing harmful chemicals to the mix. Remember, a garden is a natural ecosystem. Yes, you can control certain aspects of it, and it might be tempting to solve the problem quickly, but for the sake of the rest of your plants, do it in a way that doesn’t harm the balance of the rest of your ecosystem and the rest of your garden will continue to flourish and thank you.