If you are new to gardening, you may be surprised to find out that not all beetles are “pests”. There is one beetle that you will actually want to attract to your garden because it eats other bugs that are pests. The common name for this beetle is the “ladybug” and it is also referred to as a “ladybird beetle” or “lady beetle”. A very specific type of ladybug, the Hippodamia convergens, is one that is native to North America…and this is the little critter that we are going to talk about here. Keep in mind that there are some ladybugs that are NOT beneficial to gardening, so you want to stick with Hippodamia convergens to be on the safe side.
When you see plants in your yard that appear to be covered with sooty mold and/or ants, you may have nasty culprits like sucking insect pests, such as aphids. Ladybugs can help you out because they dine on aphids. And fortunately, there are plants you can grow for the purpose of attracting these helpful insects to your garden.
You may find that you have to fight off other types of pesky beetles such as June bugs and Colorado Potato beetles that eat your plants, but these ladybugs eat some of the pests that eat your plants. In addition, even the larvae of ladybugs eat garden pests!
Just ONE ladybug can eat 5,000 aphids in its lifetime!
Here are some pests that ladybugs enjoy dining on:
- Potato psyllids
- Green peach or “peach-potato” aphids
- Spider mites
- Asparagus beetles
So, now the question is: what plants should you invest in to attract ladybugs? Some of them are annuals, while others are perennials. You can usually find perennials already started from a nursery. Annuals can be started from seed or also already started at a garden center. The best time to plant them in the ground is late spring, after all danger of frost has passed.
It is the pollen and nectar from the flowers of these plants that draw the ladybugs to them. Bloom times will vary. You can buy something from a garden center that is already in bloom and will start attracting ladybugs immediately. But some other plants may not bloom until mid-to-late summer.
Here is a list of plants that will attract ladybugs to your garden:
(click on link to find out more about these plants)
So, if you are worried about pests chomping on your beautiful plants and flowers this spring and summer, invest in some of these plants to attract the “wonder women” of beetles…the ladybug. And who knows, maybe you will get a little good luck in the process!
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Photo Credits: flickr.com, gardeningetc.com, news.hamlethub.com