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The Benefits of the Ladybug

shutterstock_405667360As a gardener, one of your top priorities is to ensure your garden is kept free of any pests or insects that could possibly harm your precious plants. When one gets past the point of making sure the plants get enough sunlight and water, it’s definitely time to start looking into protecting them from the creatures that could slowly eat them all up.

While the misconception is that all the creepy crawly creatures are bad for your plants, the fact is that it’s actually the complete opposite. What many people don’t know is that there are insects more beneficial for your garden than others. One of those creatures happens to be the cute little ladybug.

 

The basics on the Ladybug

What many people don’t know is that there are many different species of ladybugs that exist. Many also don’t know that ladybugs go by many different names. Interestingly enough, the ladybug is actually a type of beetle and is sometimes called a “ladybird beetle” or a “lady beetle” in different parts of the world. While the image of the ladybug that everyone recognizes is the little red one with white spots, there are more kinds than just that one. They could come in red, white, pink, black, yellow or orange, and that’s with or without spots, too!

Why ladybugs are great for your garden

Since we’ve already established that ladybugs aren’t bad for your garden, we’re here to tell you that they don’t just hang around there either. Letting ladybugs be in the garden is not just okay, but it’s actually better that you do! This is because these little creatures fall under a category called “beneficials.” Insects that are classified under this category prey only on pests, so ladybugs just eat the bugs that harm your beautiful garden. They don’t touch any of the other good bugs or the other plants.

What is also interesting and something that a lot of people fail to understand is that ladybugs don’t help your garden in the way you think it would. The cute, red and polka-dotted ladybug does very little because as an adult insect, it eats very little. The ones that should be getting all the credit for eradicating bad pests are actually the ladybug’s larvae. These are what eat up pests that you want gone from your garden.

 What sort of pests do ladybugs attack?

 There are many different pests that ladybugs consume and happily eradicate from your garden, however ones to note are the aphids. Aphids are the soft body bugs that like to suck the life out of plant leaves. With that said, they’re definitely terrible to have around if you’re keeping a garden. Ladybugs also prey on other insects such as mealy bugs, scales, leafhoppers, whiteflies, spider mites and many other soft-bodied insects that munch on your garden.

How much of these pests do they attack?

When it comes to eating away aphids, ladybugs can consume up to fifty to sixty a day! If you already think that’s a lot, you might be even more surprised to find out that they can consume five thousand aphids in a lifetime! Don’t be surprised to know that many insects regard the ladybug as their natural enemy.

Lure ladybugs to your garden

With knowing the great benefit to having ladybugs in your garden to keep pest population low, you’ll probably want to have as many as possible in your garden. Thankfully, you can naturally attract ladybugs in a number of ways.

One good tip to know is that the different species of ladybugs often eat different sorts of plant pests. This means that you want to attract as many different types of ladybugs as possible! It’s also good to know that ladybugs don’t exclusively munch on pests. While their main source of sustenance is still aphids (among other pests previously mentioned), they also love consuming nectar and pollen. Having said that, you might want to add some plants that are abundant in both to your garden. Plants such as passionflowers, morning glory and stone fruits trees are just some of the great plants that can attract ladybugs. Besides that, they’re great for diversifying your garden, too!

Another way to boost your chances of having those cute creatures populate your garden is to not use chemicals of any kind in your garden. These chemicals are sure to keep the ladybugs away. Also try to put some water sources around your garden. The best way to do so is to get saucers and fill those up with pebbles, filling the saucer shallowly. This is so the insects are able to perch on the pebble confidently, so you won’t worry about falling in as they would in a birdbath.

How to get ladybugs for your garden

If the natural way isn’t working out so well, fear not! You can always buy ladybugs for your garden from many different places. What you need to note is that ladybugs need to be released properly or else they might not stay around your garden. Understand that it would take a bit of time to see a real decrease of pests in the garden as the ladybugs settle into their new home. They need to be released in the evening in a wet garden with pests (particularly aphid). This is because ladybugs don’t fly in the dark, so you’re sure they’ll stay for the night. With the water provided and the food too, you should have a populated garden in no time at all!

Having said all of that, if you haven’t gotten around to taking steps populating your garden with such great little creatures, then you should definitely go out and get them now. Ladybugs are surely a great catch to have in your garden and would make amazing partners in helping your plants thrive. Not only are they appealing to the eyes, they also serve as loyal protectors that benefit your plants. Watch your garden bloom and thrive with happy and satisfied ladybugs!

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