Some amateur gardeners may be surprised to learn that they could counteract pests in the garden by attracting ladybugs. This species of beetle is actually beneficial to garden plants because it feeds on other species that are actually pests. Native plant lovers prefer to keep the beneficial insects native as well, thereby providing natural protection. So here are some gardening tips that might help you with that.
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How to attract ladybugs to protect your crops
To be better informed about what you distinguish species in the ladybug, there are some features worth knowing. For example, the seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata) is native to Eurasia and is best known for eating aphids and scale insects. The pink spotted ladybug (Coleomegilla maculata) is so named because the background on which its spots appear can be pink or red. Gardeners use this ladybug against aphids, and it even eats mites. However, do not assume that all ladybugs are useful. The Mexican bean beetle ( Epilachna varivestis ) is a species that eats plants but not other pests.
If you find plants in your garden covered with black fungus and/or ants, the real culprit may be one of the sucking insect pests such as aphids. Identifying and controlling these pests can give you a lot of extra landscape maintenance. In addition, you can establish ladybugs in the garden to help you with gardening, because namely, such pests are food for ladybugs. Fortunately, there are plants that you can grow if you want to attract ladybugs to the garden. This way, you let these beneficial insects do the work for you themselves.
What do ladybugs eat?
You may be used to fighting species like June beetles (Phyllophaga longispina), Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), and Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). What does a ladybug eat in the garden and does it provide a welcome change from that? Instead of eating your plants, a European ladybug feeds on some of the pests that eat your plants. As a bonus, even as larval ladybugs eat some of the garden pests.
In addition, a single ladybug in his life can eat up to 5,000 aphids. Among the pests that you can feed ladybugs as food are: Asparagus chickadee (Crioceris asparagi, whose larvae and/or eggs ladybugs also eat), Boxthorn aphid (Myzus persicae), potato flea seed ( Bactericera cockerell) and leaf spider mites ( Tetranychus urticae).
When and how you can attract ladybugs with plants?
Some of the plants you will grow to allow for ladybug breeding are annual or biennial plant varieties, while others are perennials. Gardeners usually buy the latter already at a garden center. Annuals and biennials, accordingly, you can either grow from seed or get seedlings from the garden center and plant them. In either case, the safest time to put them in the ground is in late spring, when the danger of frost has passed.
Ladybugs are mainly attracted to pollen and nectar from the flowers of these plants. Therefore, you may not see results until these plants are in bloom, and these bloom times can vary. If you buy a summer-blooming plant at a garden center in June, it may already be blooming when you buy it, so it may attract ladybugs immediately. In contrast, a perennial like tansy doesn’t start blooming until mid-summer in the north. However, if you grow a biennial plant from seed, it will not bloom until the second year. Although there are many plants that can attract ladybugs, there are larval ladybug edible plant varieties in the ornamental garden that can attract these beneficial insects. Below you will find some of the most common plant varieties.
Suitable plant varieties for the beneficial insects
- Fragrant stonewort (Lobularia maritima) is usually an annual plant variety. This short, spreading plant grows 10 to 15 inches tall and has a width of 15 to 23 inches. Also called alyssum, this is a sun plant that likes good drainage but is easy to grow. The most popular varieties are those with white flowers, whose nectar is attractive to ladybugs.
- Silk plant (Asclepias tuberosa) is another option that also attracts ladybugs with its bright orange flowers. Further, garden coriander is an annual herb and is especially useful in recipes. You can grow it best in partial shade. This plant grows 6 to 10 inches tall and 4 to 10 inches wide. Spicy coriander likes rich soil with good drainage and slightly acidic soil pH .
- Dill weed, also called cucumber weed, is a tall and thin plant that needs full sun. However, since it has a long taproot, make sure you give this annual herb a loose, well-drained soil. This should not prevent the taproot from taking root deep below the soil surface. Dill is not only suitable for pickles, but also gives a great taste to fish dishes and much more.
- Leaf parsley is another culinary herb, but this one is a biennial. It grows 30 to 46 centimeters high and 23 to 30 cm wide. Parsley is not picky about sunlight requirements. Anything from full sun to partial shade will do. The plant needs a rich, evenly moist, well-drained garden soil.
Perennials that attract ladybugs.
- The tansy or wormweed (Tanacetum vulgare) st 0.6 to 1.2 meters high and has a width of 30 to 45 centimeters. This yellow flowering perennial likes full to partial sun and well-drained, fertile soil. This plant is not at all picky about soil pH, which makes it a very adaptable variety. Note, however, that it is considered a noxious weed to certain regions and should not be grown in conditions where it could spread.
- Maidenhair (Coreopsis) is a perennial that you can grow in full sun to partial shade and in soil that drains well. It grows 25 to about 46 inches tall and 30 to 60 inches wide. Its flowers are yellow, orange, pink and red, with some varieties being bicolored.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) reaches a height of about 1 meter and a width of 0.6 meters. This is an aromatic perennial most prized for its airy, fern-like foliage and flat flower heads. Varieties come in colors (red, yellow, etc.) other than the white you see growing along roadsides. Like tansy, yarrow is not picky to grow. It needs full sun and well-drained soil, but will tolerate clay soil better than many plant varieties and is also drought tolerant once established.