A common plant predator in your garden is a bug called an aphid. Aphids are a nuisance because they suck the sap out of plant stems. This will eventually kill the plant. Colonies of aphids can completely demolish entire gardens if left unchecked. This is where our friends the ladybugs come in. Ladybugs love to eat aphids. They love to eat them so much in fact, that they can eat up to 60 aphids per day! This means that in their entire lifespan one ladybug will eat around 5,000 aphids. Ladybugs will also eat a variety of other insects, such as mites, leaf hoppers, and mealy bugs.
If you are planning to purchase ladybugs to release into your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind to improve the success chance of your ladybugs. Ladybugs must be released correctly, and into a comfortable environment. Ladybugs – even ones that you have purchased are still wild creatures and if they feel as though the space provided for them isn’t advantageous they will fly away to find somewhere else that will better suit their needs. Ladybugs will not stick around somewhere where they don’t have enough food or water. It is very important to water the garden and grass before you release your ladybugs. When they come out of hibernation the first thing they will look for is a source of water, and they will fly away to find it if there is no water available. Ladybugs can survive without food for a few days, but will not survive without water.
Ladybugs can be stored in the crisper of your fridge until they are ready to be released. They should be kept in temperatures between 2 – 7°c until they are ready to be released. They can be kept in the fridge for several weeks, but should be released as soon as you are able to as the longer they are stored the less will survive. A cotton ball with water should be placed in the container they are in to keep them hydrated. Ladybugs should be given time to relax from their travel to you in the fridge before they are released. Ladybugs need to be released in the evening as this gives them time to adjust to the temperatures outside before they have to endure daytime heat. To encourage them to stay in your garden, it is best to release them when aphids are present, and when the leaves of the plants are infoliated. Ladybugs can be released all at once, but better results may be achieved if they are released in smaller applications, over the span of a few days or even weeks.
When releasing ladybugs it is best to hold the container they are in next to a plant, and allow them to crawl out on their own. If they’re not moving, you can tap on the container so they fall out, but it is best to let them come out on their own. The ladybugs will need time to “wake up” before they start crawling. Keeping ladybugs in the fridge makes them “sleepy” and puts them in a hibernation state.
There is also a myriad of plants that you can have in your garden to make it more appealing to ladybugs. Ladybugs are common in the summertime, and will sometimes come naturally to your garden if you have some of their favourite plants growing in your garden. Ladybugs love dandelions, geraniums, parsley, and dill just to name a few. Dandelions are a favourite food of quite a few beneficial bugs, so if you can it’s best to leave them in your garden rather than pulling them out.
Ladybugs are an excellent choice to keep aphid populations at bay in your garden. Supplied with the right conditions, ladybugs will be a great garden companion for the summer months! For more information on ladybugs, and to learn about other beneficial bugs visit your local Garden Gallery. We’d be happy to help you learn more!