Your comprehensive resource for ladybug facts, crafts, products & fun!
Helps control aphids and other pests naturally in your garden with live ladybugs!
There are some pros and cons about buying live ladybugs and releasing them into your garden for pest control! It is a form of pesticide that is environmentally safe and no harmful chemicals are used to get rid of the little pests because the ladybugs will eat them! Ladybugs are mostly known for their aphid diet, but they also provide great organic pest control against these other bugs:
Whitefly, Scales, Mites, Mealybugs, Broccoli Worm, Tomato Hornworm, Bollworm, Cabbage Moth
If you do decide to buy some ladybugs for your garden, here are some tips, questions and answers to get you headed in the right direction.
How may ladybugs should I buy for my pest problem?
While there is no exact formula for how many ladybugs to use as organic pest control, we do have a few tips. For a small yard 1500 can work out very well. The ladybugs will be more effective if released in small amounts over a period of time rather than releasing all of them at once. In this scenario they will need to be safely stored for repeated releases. It may take some experimentation. Ladybugs will also be less effective if released out of their cycle. For example ladybugs are generally dormant in wintertime. So if you release them and expect great returns, you may be dissappointed. This is a better time to store them.
Here are some great resources for getting live ladybugs for your garden
Where should I store my ladybugs?
Ladybugs need to be stored in a cool place such as a refrigerator, NOT A FREEZER, until they are used. Ladybugs rely on heat from their environment to become active much in the same way reptiles do so being put in a cool place calms them down and puts them in a dormant state.
What temperature do I need to keep ladybugs stored at?
While your refrigerator is probably within the right range to store the ladybugs it is always good to check. The safe range is 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit. While in the refrigerator the ladybugs will go dormant and live off of their fat storages though inevitably not all the ladybugs will live through being stored.
How long can ladybugs be stored for?
This is dependent on the time of the year. If you are in the winter months ladybugs can be stored for 2-3 months. If you are in April and May they will need to be released in a very short period of time to be effective. Stored ladybugs will need to be taken out every few weeks and misted with water to maintain moisture levels. In this process the misted water needs to be allowed to evaporate at room temperature before the ladybugs are place back in the refrigerator.
When should I release the ladybugs?
Ladybugs should be released in the evening so that the temperature is lower and they will settle in and rest. The ladybugs will be more likely to explore the environment, seek shelter in your plants as well as start finding food (your pest problem). Prior to releasing them wetting down your plants will also provide the ladybugs additional water they need.
Can I use pesticides in conjunction with live ladybugs?
Stop using pesticides in your garden/property at least a month before the release of live ladybugs. Ladybugs and pesticides don't mix. The only exception would be soap sprays.
How do I keep the ladybugs from leaving my garden?
A tip recommended by several live ladybug dealers suggest a technique that prevents the ladybugs from flying temporarily. Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of water and sugar based soda (most soda's are full of sugar) such as Coke or Pepsi and mist the ladybugs with it. This causes their wings to stick and they will have to stay exploring the surrounding areas for food. The solution wears off after about a week.
How long does it take for the ladybugs to "wake up" from their hibernation?
Since ladybugs rely on heat to become active and because of their small size, it does not take long at all for them to start moving once removed from the refrigerator temperature. A "sleeping" ladybug placed in direct sunlight can be roused in seconds.
What type of plants do ladybugs like?
While soft bodied insect pests are a primary staple of a ladybugs diet, they also need pollen from plants. They are attracted to these plants for pollen, insects and shelter. Check out our list of plants that attract ladybugs and you may attract them naturally to your yard.
There are lots of species of ladybugs. What type of ladybug do I need?
In most cases Hippodamia Convergens ( the convergent ladybug ) is your best bet.
Depending on the type of pest you have determine which species of ladybug is needed and find a supplier for that breed that can sell you the larvae. They eat a lot and they cannot fly away! Then eventually they will grow into cute little ladybugs.
Buying live ladybugs and releasing them in your garden can also have a down side. Some believe that it can upset nature's balance to let a bunch of ladybugs go in your garden because sometimes you can get ladybugs that are not native to your area. Also if you get too many ladybugs and there is not enough food for them, they will leave, upsetting them, you and your wallet!
On the California Department of Food and Agriculture's website there is a list of current suppliers of ladybugs along with species info. The book called Suppliers of Beneficial Organisms in North America can be downloaded or viewed here. In addition here is a list of some common ladybug species used to control different types of pests.
Hippodamia Convergens - predator of aphids
Cryptolaemus Montrouzieri - predator of mealybugs
Delphatstus Pusillus - predator of whiteflies
Harmonia axyridis - predator of aphids, Careful these guys can be pests themselves for some!
Learn some great facts about ladybugs such as what they are, what they eat, where to find them and much more!
Learn about the anatomy of ladybugs. The most well known part of the ladybug is called the elytra which is the outer hard shell-like wings of the ladybug.
Ladybug Life Cycle
Ladybugs sure grow up fast. Like other beetles they have complex little lives. Learn the phases of a ladybug's life cycle here!
Learn how to attract ladybugs to your yard or property the natural way. On this page we have some info how to get these colorful little beauties to start showing up in your garden.