Get Ladybugs to Stay in The Garden

You went out to the local garden center and saw ladybugs for sale. You thought it would be a good idea to use the ladybugs instead of regular chemical pesticides so you bought a pint. You came home, released the ladybugs in your garden and... they all flew away without eating the aphids on your roses. Can you get ladybugs to stay in your garden long enough to eat bugs?

Make sure you have a nice selection of bugs in your garden for the ladybug to eat. Aphids are preferred. Whitefly, mites, thrips, Colorodo potato beetle larvae and many other soft bodied insects will do. Don't use pesticide or use it very selectively on the days preceding lady beetle purchase.

Purchase ladybugs from a local grower. ladybugs are collected from the wild and may be shipped from out of state. Ladybugs from out of the local region may want to disperse and not eat during the summer, or even stay and live off stored fats during hibernation season in winter. If you buy locally harvested ladybugs, they may eat immediately from your garden, and they may be more likely to live in your garden- a ladybug habitat.

Purchase ladybugs in sufficient quantity- 3500-4500 for a medium sized home garden.

Store ladybugs in refrigerator until you are ready to release them- 1-3 weeks in some cases, but check with your supplier.

Plan to release ladybugs into your garden in the early evening when it is not too hot or cold, preferably in the spring to early summer.

Lightly water the garden-plants and leaves, forming puddles on roots and rocks wherever possible- allowing the ladybug natural places to drink.

You may want to lightly, lightly mist. Did I mention lightly? mist. Not drown. Mist the ladybugs with a solution of water with a bit of cola/soda mixed in. Possible one part cola to 3 parts water. Mist with a spray bottle. This may make their wings sticky and make it more difficult for them to fly away. If the ladybugs stay for a few days, they may lay eggs, if the eggs hatch the you have a habitat. I have released several bags of ladybugs in my garden. On my last batch I did the cola trick. That was two years ago and I have not had aphids since, nor pesticide, and I can always find a few ladybugs in my garden. I am a believer... but you can skip this step if it sounds dumb.

Give the ladybugs a long drink when you release them. Don't drown them. Follow the package instructions. If they are in a mesh bag, you might mist them, if they are in a pint box this may not be a good idea. They will need to drink- so at least make sure your plants are nice and wet- or they will fly away.

Release the ladybugs. Get a pencil or a stick and lightly release a few ladybugs on each plant. If the ladybugs can find water, and there are bugs for them to eat, they will stick around for a few days and do their work. An adult ladybug will eat around 4000 aphids in its lifetime.

Ladybugs live under rocks, fences, tree roots and such. If you have wood logs, rocks or boards around, they will find them and may make a home. Do an internet search of ladybug plus your home state and it will let you know of any special habitat or migration patterns that might help you.


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