Attracting Ladybugs to your garden
Many people are attracted to the ladybug for their bright red color with black spots. Gardeners and farmers love them for their hearty appetite. The ladybug feeds on plant eating insects, such as the aphid. Ladybugs are known for laying hundreds of their eggs in the colonies of the plant eating insects. When the ladybug larvae hatch, they begin to feed on the aphids and mites immediately. Some ladybugs can consume 5,000 insects in its short 3-6 week life span as larvae. A ladybug can live 2 to 3 years in the wild.
Ladybugs are also called lady beetles and in Europe are known as "Ladybird beetles." There are over 5,000 different species of ladybug and not all of them have the same appetite. Some are actually plant eaters themselves, such as the Mexican Bean Beetle or the Squash Beetle.
There are some known plants that you can plant that will help you attract ladybugs to your garden and I have listed a couple of other ideas to attract ladybugs to your garden.
1. Calendula-Calendula is grown from seeds. Sow Calendula seeds early in the season, and cover lightly with 1/4" of garden soil. They germinate easily and will grow quickly, producing their first of a continual display of blooms by mid-summer.
2. Chives-To get started, buy chive plants from a garden center or herb supplier, or get some from a friend. Chives like average soil, very good drainage, and four to six hours of sun. They don’t require a lot of water—once a week if they’re in the ground and there’s no rain, two to three times a week if they’re in a pot.
3. Cosmos-Plant seeds in moist, well-drained soil about 1/4-inch deep and 12–18 inches apart after the danger of frost have passed. You can also plant transplants instead of seeds. They also like soil that is not too rich.
4. Dandelion- Let a few of them flower in your yard (do not let them seed)
5. Dill-Dill seed germinates quickly.Plant this herb in the spring.Cover the seed lightly with soil, and moisten the garden bed. You should see sprouts growing in about two weeks. After they’ve sprouted, thin the plants to 12” apart.
6. Feverfew-Sow the seed in early spring while the ground is still cool. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and lightly tamp to make sure they make full contact. Don’t cover the seeds as they need sunlight to germinate. Water by misting them so you don’t blow them away. They will sprout in roughly 14 days.
7. Marigold-Sow Marigold seeds early in the season and cover lightly with soil. Water thoroughly. Seeds germinate fast and easy.
8. Sweet Alyssum- Plant sweet alyssum seeds directly into the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Choose a planting site that receives full sun to part shade and has fertile, well-drained soil. Four to six hours of direct sunlight each day is best for optimal flowering.
9. Mustard-In the springtime, sow the seed in drills about 1⁄8 inch deep and 15 inches apart, as the last frost deadline nears.
10. Tulips and lilies-The ladybugs love this bloom shape due to the fact that these blooms capture water and keep things inside them somewhat cool.
If you're having trouble attracting them to your garden, you can go to your local nursery and buy ladybugs. When releasing ladybugs into your garden, you should do so in the evening when the sun goes down and the temperature drops. Ladybugs usually only fly during the day, and by releasing them at night, it gives your ladybugs the chance to crawl over the stems and leaves and have a snack.
If you notice that your ladybugs have decided to leave your garden, you can release the ladybugs and then cover the plants for a day or two with a thin, breathable sheet, like cheesecloth. This will ensure your ladybugs stay and eat for a while.
© 2013 Dannell