Ladybugs in the Garden
Keeping your garden pest-free can be challenging. While there are many sprays and chemicals available that can help to control pests in the garden, they can be costly, and time consuming to use. Not to mention that if you miss some of the pests, they will simply reproduce and repopulate the area over time. Now imagine having a thousand or more garden helpers that can help you to keep small pests under control, and can hunt them down and destroy them with far greater accuracy than you could?
If aphids, spider mites, or whiteflies are pests in your garden, then ladybugs may be a suitable way for you to control their populations. Ladybugs, especially ladybug larvae, love aphids and consume up to three times their bodyweight in aphids per day. They will help to control whitefly and spider mite populations too, but are most effective on aphid populations. You can purchase ladybugs from garden shops and garden centers and they often come in a small tube that you can take with you. They come in many different quantities, but for a small yard, roughly 10 meters by 10 meters, a smaller quantity, normally 250 ladybugs, will do the job just fine for you.
It is important to remember that ladybugs themselves can become pests if they are given the chance to get inside a home, so for balcony gardens or gardens that are against or very near to a home, ladybugs might not be the best choice to remove garden pests. When you get the tube of ladybugs home, it is important to wait until after sunset to release them because if you release them during the daylight hours, they may fly away. Ladybugs do not like to fly in the dark, and often stay in the same place they are put until that have had the chance to explore their surroundings, so by placing them at night, they have a better chance of getting acquainted to their new home.
Once they have gotten established, they will start attacking aphids in the areas that they are in, and will eventually lay small orange eggs on the underside of sturdy branches and leaves. These eggs, from which the ladybug larvae will hatch, are important to the health of your garden because the larvae inside are the hungriest and most efficient aphid killers. The larvae, which are small black bugs with a tiny red stripe down their backs, begin to search for food immediately after hatching and are great at reducing aphid populations in a short amount of time.
For anyone concerned with maintaining an organic garden, but suffers from spider mites, whiteflies, or aphids, ladybugs are a great alternative to sprays and chemicals. The ladybugs will continue to multiply over time as they become more established in a garden, and will continue to attack pests that are in their way. Ladybugs are very efficient and quick, and cause no harm to the plants in your garden, unlike the pests that they consume.