Ladybugs are a gardener’s best friend. On top of being considered lucky, ladybugs are also great for getting rid of destructive pests like mites, scale, and aphids. Here's how to keep those cute little helpers around.
Grow the right kind of flowers & plants.
Probably the best thing you can do to attract ladybugs to your yard is provide adequate food for them. Ladybugs eat two things: insect pests and pollen. They need both to survive and when these two things are in abundance, they’ll happily relocate to your garden.
There are several pollen plants ladybugs enjoy. Usually, the blooms on these plants have flat flowers that act like landing pads for them, and they tend to be yellow or white.
Generally speaking, you should be planting these plants if you want ladybugs to come visit:
- Sweet Alyssum
These plants are all plants that ladybugs love to get pollen from. However, it might be a good idea to plant some plant decoys in your garden as well that will attract and provide aphids while you keep your desired plants bug free. Plants that can be used as aphid-attracting decoys include radish, early cabbage, marigold, and nasturtium (a favorite amongst aphids). It might seem counterproductive to plant these to lure in aphids, but only do this if you don’t already have an aphid problem, but still really want ladybugs to pop up.
It’s important to note ladybugs also need a water source, so consider spritzing your plants every once in a while with water. The ladybugs will drink from plant dew.
Make a ladybug house.
Another great way to attract ladybugs? Building them a little shelter to live in! You should definitely plant flowers and produce that will attract ladybugs, and then follow it up with this next step of building them shelter. It will make them really want to stay. A ladybug house typically consists of a small wooden box filled with wooden pieces like bamboo canes. The ladybug house may even attract other beneficial insects like bees and green lacewings. The insects can hibernate and take shelter in these wooden structures.
How To Build A Ladybug House
- a birdhouse
- flathead screwdriver
- outdoor paint
- wood glue
- screw eye hook
- First, carefully pry off and remove the front panel of the bird house with a flat head screwdriver.
- Next, paint the entire bird house inside and out using outdoor paint to help it weather the elements (and look cute).
- Cut bamboo pieces the depth of the house and glue them in place like a puzzle until you fill the whole house. Add some random clusters of sticks along the way too, since bugs really like that.
- To hang your insect hotel, add a screw eye hook to the top and place or hang it in the garden—preferably closer to the plants ladybugs like!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t use pesticides on your plants. That includes your lawn too! Pesticides don’t discriminate between the good and bad bugs—they kill both. Let the ladybugs do the pest control for you. After all, one single ladybug is capable of eating as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime!
If you must use a pesticide on your crops, consider choosing an organic, homemade pesticide that won’t harm the beneficial bugs in your garden. However, the best solution is to let the ladybugs take care of it altogether. If you’re in desperate need of ladybugs and can’t wait for them to come to your garden, you can purchase some online or at your local garden store. While the best way is to attract them naturally, purchasing them and releasing them into your garden onto the problem plants is the second-best option.
For more ways to have a sustainable garden, check out these zero waste gardening basics or learn how to conserve water in your garden.