Buying Ladybugs

dsc_2487So this is the last in my series of articles on ladybugs this summer. First I talked about why ladybugs are a good idea in your garden and described their entomology. Then I shared some fun trivia and stories about them. And just a few weeks ago I shared my research on building a garden that would attract ladybugs.

So what to do if your garden is full of aphids and flowers with umbrella shaped blossoms, but the ladybugs aren’t arriving and/or staying. Ha! I have the solution. You can buy them from… guess who? … drum roll… Amazon! Of course. You may also be able to purchase from your local greenhouse or nursery but there are several options on Amazon to help get your personal ladybug population introduced. This company is in Ohio, so similar winter conditions.

Make sure whomever you purchase from harvests the beetles from the wild. I’ve also discovered you need to make sure they know you aren’t a commercial operation or the quantities of ladybugs will be well beyond what your property can sustain.

Ladybugs are shipped live and in adult stage.

When your ladybugs arrive put the bag or tub in a cool place, such as your refrigerator vegetable crisper. This will also slow them down a bit since they will be cooler.

Do not release the ladybugs during the heat of the day while the sun is shining. In the afternoon or early evening, water your garden well. This gives the newly released ladybugs much needed hydration and helps them stick better to the plants. Its best to release your ladybugs after the sun sets to help prevent birds from eating them before they are able to settle into your garden.

Children love to be part of the ladybug release, but remind them not to squeeze or they'll get a nasty smell on their fingers.

Children love to be part of the ladybug release, but remind them not to squeeze or they’ll get a nasty smell on their fingers.

After resting overnight and re-hydrating a bit, your ladybugs will be ready to start eating those aphids. If you have any plants or shrubs infested with the aphids, place netting over the plants and let some of your ladybugs loose under it, where they will happily gobble up those pests!

It is important to release the ladybugs in the evening because they will not fly at night and need a settling down period after being handled. When releasing the ladybugs, gently scatter or spread them out so each ladybug can find food immediately. After being newly released your ladybugs should mate and lay eggs within 8-10 days.

Keep in mind that released ladybugs may not establish in your garden — if they do not like the conditions, they will simply fly away. Experiment with what works best but here are a few tips to encouraging ladybugs to stay in your gardens:

  • Avoid spraying chemicals that will harm them.
  • Know what the ladybug larvae and pupae look like so you don’t accidentally kill them thinking they are pests.
  • Keep moisture levels high, so the ladybugs have ready-access to water droplets. This doesn’t have to mean lots of watering, but can be as simple as locating plants in masses close together.
  • Plant a variety of plants with cone shaped blossoms to provide nectar and pollen (see a list for favorites).

And most of all, remember the ladybugs are their for the “cute factor” and the fun of watching them fly in your garden, in addition to their voracious appetites.


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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