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Want to grow ladybugs in your garden? This article (and video) will show you how!
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how much we love insects, especially pollinators and predatory insects.
You also know that we constantly preach about the importance of encouraging robust and diverse populations of insects in your garden to help with everything from pollination to pest insect control. Without pest insects, predatory insects won’t have anything to eat, so they’ll either die or move to a new location.
Ladybugs: the cute predator
Perhaps no other predatory insect has earned as much adoration in our culture as the ladybug.
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No idea how this little ladybug found its way into our growlight setup or what it’s able to find for food here, but we’re glad to have a predator ready to go in case aphids start to appear. So stinkin cute you just want to pinch its little cheeks, er pronotum. #ladybugs #gardening #seedlings #growlights #seedstarting #ladybug #GrowJourney
Sure they’re cute little red/orange, shiny beetles with white and black faces. It just so happens that in addition to being cute, they that spend their days gorging on tiny pest insects.
What’s a more voracious hunter than an adult ladybug? Ladybug larvae.
Identifying ladybugs at every stage in their life cycle
It’s important for organic gardeners to not only be able to ID crucially important adult insects, but also be able to ID them at each stage in their life cycle. For example, below is a photo showing what a ladybug looks like at each stage in their life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupa, adult:
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Organic gardening and farming is knowledge-intensive. One critical knowledge base to develop is knowing how to ID “good” insects and “bad” insects (95% of insects are beneficial or benign), and also knowing how to ID insects at each stage in their life cycle since they can look radically different. Here’s a photo showing each stage in the life cycle of a #ladybug, voracious little predators that are especially fond of aphids. Most people recognize adult #ladybugs, but do you know what the eggs, larvae, and pupae look like? #entomology #beneficialinsects #integratedpestmanagement #organicgardening
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Want more ladybugs in your garden?
In the video below, you’ll see a quince bush in our garden that’s currently covered with aphids, tiny sap-sucking pest insects. Rather than killing the aphids with an organic insecticide or spraying off the aphids with a hose (which we might have done if there were red ants protecting/farming them), we simply waited and observed.
As you can see from the below video, our predators soon kicked into full gear…
First, our adult ladybugs came in for the all-you-can-eat aphid buffet. Once they found a spot with a lot of food, they laid eggs, which soon become larvae, which then become pupae, which then become adult lady bugs.
After this bush is cleared of aphids (which usually takes about 2-3 weeks), these ladybugs will go elsewhere in our garden to hunt pests.
By NOT taking action when we first saw aphids, we were able to “grow” ladybugs in our garden.
Doing nothing is sometimes the smartest, most effective thing you can do in your organic garden. That’s why it’s so important for organic gardeners and farmers to know how to ID various types of insects at each stage in their life cycle, and know when/if they need to take action or just sit back and enjoy the nature show…
How to grow ladybugs in your garden by making a “ladybug factors” in your garden
Where to buy ladybugs
Have lots of pest insects like aphids but don’t have a lot of predatory insects in your garden ecosystem yet? Not to worry. You can buy adult ladybugs here!
Just follow the instructions by releasing your ladybugs on the impacted plant(s) late in the evening so they’re not likely to fly off. Ladybugs are very active in the day and if there’s not an abundant food source, they’ll move on to the next spot in search of a meal.
Want to learn more about gardening with the help of insects? Here are more helpful articles from GrowJourney:
Now you know what ladybugs looks like during each stage of their life cycle and how to grow a ton of ladybugs in your garden!