Are ladybugs good for plants and your outdoor garden? For some, the natural reaction is to want to remove these lady beetles from their plants and vegetable garden because they might eat plants. However, while these bugs might eat some of your plants, most are feasting on bad bugs living on the plants as their primary food source, so they are doing more help than harm, even if they eat some of your plants.
Ladybugs (or ladybirds if you are in Great Britain) feast on aphids, mealybugs, thrips, whiteflies, mites, and scale insects, which are all common garden pests that ruin plants and gardens. These insect pests cause your plant to wither and die because they suck the nutrients out of them. Introducing ladybugs to plants is a great idea to combat these pests from ruining your garden because it is a green option, which means you won’t be putting potentially toxic chemicals on your garden.
So, what exactly is a ladybug, and how long do they live? Do some cultures consider ladybugs as good luck? What is the issue with some pests that attack plants, and how do ladybugs counteract that? How do you naturally attract ladybugs to your plants and garden?
Here is the complete breakdown of using ladybugs with plants and vegetables.
What is a Ladybug / How Long Do They Live?
Before jumping into “are ladybugs good for plants,” we should briefly discuss what they are first. According to National Geographic, Ladybugs are about the size of a paperclip and feed off plant-eating pests. There are over 5,000 different species of ladybugs, and they have an awful taste, which is why similar types of bugs don’t tend to feed on them.
Along with over 5,000 different species, they have an average lifespan of 2-3 years. They lay hundreds of eggs at a time, making them a powerful ally in your home garden since you will have additional reinforcements.
In addition to that, ladybugs are also distinctive with their red coat and black spots. When they are on a green leaf on your plant, you can easily spot them, unlike some pests that are causing harm to your plant. When you see ladybugs on your plants, chances are they are doing an essential job in keeping your plants healthy.
A Green Solution Instead of Using Harmful Pesticides
Whether you have a vegetable garden or have a few plants in your home, you’ve probably come across the pros and cons of using pesticides on your plants. After all, plants can attract pests that can be incredibly harmful for various reasons, so using pesticides can remove that problem. However, if you are looking for a green solution for organic gardening that doesn’t have the cons of pesticides via harmful toxins, then ladybugs are your answer.
Releasing ladybugs on your plants and garden is a natural pesticide, which works great if you want a green solution for natural pest control. According to Small Space Gardening Basics, ladybugs eat around 25 aphids per day, which can be a great way to reduce the infestation on your plant naturally.
In addition to eating harmful plant pests, ladybugs also assist with eating pollination. Especially during the spring, when allergies are high, you can benefit from ladybugs in your garden.
Does Ladybug Larvae Play a Factor in Battling Plant Pests?
Another benefit of having ladybugs on your plants and garden is that the larvae that the ladybugs drop also eat pests. Once the ladybugs lay eggs after a week or two, new ladybugs will hatch, and thus the effective life cycle continues with more beneficial insects in your garden. Plus, ladybugs tend to lay eggs near aphid populations on a plant, so they do all the work for you to battle these pests.
Larvae won’t look anything like an adult ladybug that you are familiar with. Larvae look like alligators with rigid bodies, unlike the adult ladybugs with red coating and black dots.
Are There Any Downsides to Having Ladybugs Near Your Plants and Garden?
While there are pros to having ladybugs near or in your garden, there are some cons. For instance, the Mexican Bean Beetle and Japanese Beetles tend to eat more plants than other types of ladybugs. You can check out the full breakdown of these ladybugs on Almanac.com.
Another downside of having ladybugs in your garden or houseplant is that they can give off an unpleasant smell. Ladybug smell is similar to a burnt fragrance, so having them in your home might not be ideal.
Finally, if the ladybugs start laying eggs, you can run into a population problem where your garden, or home, becomes infested with hundreds of ladybugs.
How to Encourage Ladybugs to Hang Out in Your Plant Garden?
There are ways to encourage native ladybugs to hang out in your plants and garden. First, you don’t want to spray any insecticides on the plant. If you did put insecticides down your garden or plants, you would want to thoroughly spray down the garden with water to remove this from the leaves. Insecticides will deter the ladybugs away from your plants and garden, so you need to get rid of them.
Next, certain plants can naturally attract ladybugs to them. Some plants naturally attract ladybugs include geranium, mint, chives, dill, fennel, cosmos, parsley, and yarrow. In addition to having plants that attract these types of bugs, you can also build a ladybug house that provides a bit of shelter for them. The ladybug house is a DIY hack where you cut holes in a cardboard box and put some raisins, mulch, bark, sugar water, and some apple peels in it. In addition to that, this ladybug house can also attract bees, which is another benefit.
Finally, you can set up a decoy type of plant to attract insect pests to them. The idea behind the decoy plant is to attract insects like aphids and mealybugs, which then attracts ladybugs. Check out the complete guide from Gardening Know How to learn more about this process.
Can You Buy Ladybugs for Your Plants and Garden?
If you cannot naturally attract ladybugs to your plants or need to get many quickly into your garden at once, you can buy them at a local nursery. Buying them is generally the fastest way to get ladybugs into your garden and eat plant-sucking insects ruining your vegetables.
However, before randomly buying any ladybug, be sure only to get ones that are native to your climate. You don’t want to purchase non-native species because they might not be able to adapt to your environment and can cause other issues in your garden and plant nursery.
Do Ladybugs Act as Good Luck?
According to Nomadrs.com, ladybugs are considered good luck in various cultures. People believe they bring good luck due to their representation, inner power, and self-sufficiency. If you are looking for good vibes around your plants and garden, adding some ladybugs can be significant.
What are the Problems with Garden Pests Anyway?
The problem with mealybugs, aphids, and other similar insects is that they suck the sap out of plants. By sucking out the sap of the plants, they weaken the plant’s structure, which can cause the plant to fall over. The best way to think of the liquid in a plant is that it is the blood of people and animals. As the plant loses the sap that contains precious nutrients that are no longer going to parts of the plant, other areas can suffer.
Plus, insects that open the plant to suck the sap out can lead to fungus and other types of diseases, which can cause even more damage to the plant.
Conclusion: Are Ladybugs Good for Plants?
In summary, ladybugs are a great natural pest control option to have in your vegetable garden and plants. They feast on plant-sucking pests, which means they remove that problem for you without you using any harmful pesticides. Not only that, but ladybugs can also eat pollen, which can help with your allergies in the spring.
While there are many benefits to using ladybugs on plants, there are also some cons. First, you should only use native species of ladybugs on your plants. Introducing ones that are not familiar with your climate might not work as effectively as you might like. Second, when you add ladybugs to your home, you might start to smell a foul odor. Ladybugs can give off an unpleasant odor, so consider that if you plan to drop hundreds of these insects into your greenhouse or another type of plant environment.