Ladybugs make for great natural pest control in your landscape since they feed on other insects to survive. But before you set them free to feed, follow our five tips to encourage them to make your garden home!
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Before we get into the tips, let's make sure your garden is a good home for ladybugs.
Is there enough food in the landscape for ladybugs?
Ladybugs are predators, they feed on other insects to survive. In this case, ladybugs feed on aphids and mealybugs (both are sap-sucking insect pests), insect eggs, small caterpillars and mites. The most common ladybug for purchase is the convergent ladybug. They have two white lines on the top of their head that slant towards each other, as if they’re converging.
If you’re releasing ladybugs in your landscape because you love watching them, but there aren’t any insects on which they can feed, the ladybugs will go elsewhere in search of nourishment, leaving you holding the (empty) bag.
So spend some time in your garden searching for aphids and mealybugs, if you find one you most likely have hundreds, therefore making your ladybugs very happy.
Let’s talk about some things you can do to have the best chance to keep ladybugs in your landscape after releasing them.
What time of day Should you Release Ladybugs?
Ladybugs are collected in areas where they hibernate and have usually been in cold storage until they are to be released. Keep ladybugs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to release them. It helps them live longer and you’ll have less mortality when it’s time for them to fly and be free.
Once ladybugs warm up, their first impulse is to disperse and seek food and water to replenish their energy reserves. If you release ladybugs during the day, they disperse AWAY from your landscape, leaving you sad and wondering where all of the ladybugs went!
By releasing ladybugs in the cool of the evening and by making your garden look appetizing you are encouraging them to stay.
Here are some tips to make your garden look appetizing for ladybugs.
- Spritz the surrounding vegetation with a mist of water so they can hydrate while acclimating to the area overnight. If there is dew, the spritz of water isn’t necessary. Some experts even recommend a spritz of water inside of their container in lieu of applying it to vegetation.
- Place the ladybug container near plants with heavy populations of pest insects (aphids, mealybugs) on which the ladybugs will feed and lay eggs.
- Release ladybugs in the early evening when temperatures are cooler. Consider opening their container under a box and leaving there during the night.
- Consider placing an index card with a few drops of honey on it near the ladybug container while leaving it overnight. Ladybugs will feed on the honey as a quick energy source until they start eating aphids.
- DO NOT release ladybugs during the day or in the mornings.
You can purchase ladybugs from online sources or local nurseries. We purchased ours through Amazon, they arrived alive and ready to be released!! Follow these simple methods and maybe you’ll keep those ladybugs around your landscape a little longer!