What are Ladybugs?
The physical appearance of ladybugs will depend on their specific type, but in most cases, they share common characteristics. Most of them are round with recognizable spots in their body. The average length is 1/16 to 3/8 inches. The color is yellow, brown, black, orange, or red. They have a pair of three legs and they also have antennae. All over the world, there are more than 4,000 species of ladybugs. The most popular are Hippodamia convergens.
Because they love tender foliage, most lady beetles will appear in the summer or spring. This is also the time when aphids are most abundant, which serves as their main food. During the autumn, meanwhile, you will find them under the rocks and leaves, which is where they overwinter. Many ladybugs are found not only in the garden, but even inside homes and buildings.
For most species of ladybugs, it takes an average of four weeks for them to reach full maturity from an egg. In the spring or cooler months, on the other hand, their life cycle will take approximately six weeks. In the lifetime of every adult ladybug, it will lay anywhere from 50 to 300 eggs. After laying, the eggs will hatch within three days. In about three weeks, the larva will start feeding on pests and pupation follows. In about ten days, they will transform into an adult.
Among others, ladybugs target aphids of plant lice as their main food. In fact, within the full lifecycle of an adult ladybug, it can feed on as much as 5,000 aphids. Aside from such, they also feed on soft-scale insects. It is predators of mealybugs, alfalfa weevils, asparagus beetle larvae, grape root worm, bean thrips, and Colorado potato beetle eggs, among others.
How to Attract Ladybugs
The following are some of the most effective ways to naturally attract ladybugs in your garden:
- Among others, one of the easiest ways to encourage their population is through growing plants that will attract them. In this case, some of the best plants to grow include garlic, dill, bachelor’s button, geranium, cilantro, parsley, dandelion, fennel, and daisy, among others. These plants will serve as their food source.
- Another easy way to have ladybugs in the garden is to purchase them from commercial sellers. The key to its success is to make sure that the number is enough to control the pests present in the garden. For a small space, 2,000 ladybugs will be more than enough. On the other hand, if you have a large garden, you will need as much as 18,000 ladybugs.
- Organic pest control will also help in attracting ladybugs. In most instances, to get rid of the most common garden pests, we tend to resort to the use of pesticides. They contain chemicals, but they will kill not only the pest, but also ladybugs. With this, use natural pesticides or organic elimination methods.
- You might also want to make natural traps in the garden. One of the most effective is a shallow dish with pebbles. Fill the dish with water, making sure to cover at least half of the rocks. Place it in the garden and it will attract ladybugs.
- Providing water in the garden will also help. They prefer moist environments and they need water for hydration. However, make sure to replenish the water every now and then. Stagnant water will attract mosquitoes, so you might want to avoid it.
- There are also artificial insect attractants that you can apply on the top of the plants. Be sure to cover the plant liberally. Also, pay attention to the ingredients and make sure that they do not contain toxic chemicals.
How to Prevent Ladybugs
While most of the ladybugs in the garden are natural predators, there are also some species that can be a nuisance, especially when they survive inside the house. With this, one of the most effective preventive measures is to make sure that there are no cracks on doors, windows, and chimneys, among other places where they can hide. Using silicone caulk will help in controlling their population. Using a vacuum cleaner will also help in their manual removal. If the population is already too large, it is best to rely on the help of professionals in pest control.