Attracting Ladybugs to Your Garden

Attracting Ladybugs to Your Garden: An activity for all ages. Ladybugs are one of many beneficial insects that you want in your garden. Attracting them to, and keeping them in your garden, is an important work in maintaining a healthy and balanced garden ecosystem. In this lesson you will learn what to plant, what conditions to maintain, and how to release purchased ladybugs into your garden.

  • Supplies:
    • Pollen producing plants that attract ladybugs (Ladybugs eat pollen in addition to aphids)
      • Dill
      • Fennel
      • Chives
      • Cilantro
      • Marigold
      • Yarrow
      • Other pollen producing plants of your choice
    • Aphid attracting plants
      • Nasturtium
      • Marigold
      • Radish
    • Clean water in a vessel such as:
      • Bird bath
      • Fountain
      • Water dish
    • Purchased ladybugs (optional)
  • After purchasing your plants check your companion planting guides and decide where to plant them. Try to spread the pollen producing plants throughout your garden. Also try to get a large variety that will be blooming at different times throughout your growing season. The idea is to always have one or two varieties in bloom so your ladybugs have a ready pollen source.
  • Plant your aphid attracting plants. Again do this according to your companion planting guides. Also try to plant them away from your crop plants which aphids prefer. By attracting aphids away from your crop plants you provide a perfect ladybug nursery with a steady food supply for the hatching larvae.
  • Keep a source of clean water readily available. Using a simple saucer where it will catch water from a sprinkler or drip line is an easy way to make sure the supply stays fresh and ready.
  • Make sure there are plenty of areas protected by dense leafy foliage where the ladybugs can take refuge. Ornamental grasses and sage work well for this and being a little untidy in your garden is actually a bonus. Old wood piles, plants with untrimmed dead leaves and the like are great places for ladybugs.
  • If you choose to purchase ladybugs take care to release them properly.
    • Make sure there are aphids for them to eat before purchasing otherwise they will just fly away (and you didn’t need them anyway).
    • Make sure not to use chemical pesticides.
    • Put them in the fridge for an hour or two to slow them down.
    • Release them at twilight.
    • Gently spray your aphid rich plants with water before releasing. The moisture helps to keep the ladybugs in these plants overnight. Some people also spray the ladybugs themselves with water before release.

Here are a few videos that will also help you be successful in attracting and keeping ladybugs in your garden.