5 Easy Ways to Help Ladybugs in Your Garden
Ladybugs are a big help to organic gardeners because they spend their days eating destructive garden pests, including aphids, whiteflies, cabbage moths, and mites. Thanks to their voracious appetites, ladybugs are considered beneficial insects by gardeners who want to control pest populations without using toxic pesticides.
If you need to boost the ladybug population in your garden, here are five easy ways to encourage these welcome guests to make themselves at home:
#1 Embrace Organic Practices
Toxic pesticides do not discriminate. They kill beneficial insects just as readily as the negative ones. Therefore, eliminating the use of any type of pesticide in and around your home is an excellent first step toward attracting more ladybugs to your garden.
#2 Provide “Decoy” Plants
Aphids are the primary source of food for ladybugs, and they need a steady supply of these pests to survive. These opportunistic pests are happy to devour your prized vegetable plants, but they are attracted to certain plants, such as mustard and nasturtium, more than others. By planting these “decoy plants” in one section of your garden, you can entice aphids to target them instead of your more desirable plants. This will create a concentrated all-you-can-eat buffet for ladybugs while diverting aphids away from the rest of your garden.
#3 Plant Pollen-Producing Plants
Although ladybugs prefer to feast on smaller insects, they are drawn to specific plants, as well. For example, ladybugs love culinary herbs, such as parsley, dill, and fennel, and flowering plants including angelica, marigolds, sweet alyssum, yarrow, and cosmos. Grow a variety of these plants in and around your garden to entice more ladybugs to stay.
#4 Provide Adequate Shelter
Ladybugs are rather minimalistic creatures in that they don’t require a fancy place to live. Decomposing logs, adequate ground cover, or leafy bushes can serve as a place to hide from predators, while shallow plates of water strategically placed around your garden provide much-needed moisture for them.
#5 Purchase Ladybugs
You’ll need a large number of ladybugs to control a large-scale aphid infestation. If the natural population in your area is insufficient, you can also purchase ladybugs for your garden. For best results, keep them refrigerated until you are ready to release them because they do not thrive at room temperature. Also, thoroughly research the seller before you purchase to make sure they don’t have a history of shipping unhealthy specimens.
4 Ways to Attract Pollinators to your Organic Vegetable Garden
As an organic gardener, one of the best things you can do for your garden and the surrounding environment encourages more pollinators to make themselves at home there.
Hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, bats, and other beneficial critters play an essential role in the overall health and well being of your vegetable garden. In fact, a large population of pollinators in an area is a good indication that the surrounding environment is healthy.
Unfortunately, many gardeners find it challenging to attract enough pollinators to their property. However, there are several things you can do to avoid this issue in your vegetable garden.
Here are 4 Great Ways to Attract More Pollinators to your Garden:
#1: Eliminate Toxic Pesticides and Weed Killers
As an organic gardener, you are already doing one of the most important things you can do to attract more pollinators into your garden. Non-selective pesticides and weed killers can also harm the beneficial insects and creatures you are trying to attract. The full impact of their use on living creatures and the environment is not yet fully understood, but more and more research is now showing there is a strong cause for alarm.
Sensible organic gardening practices, on the other hand, help create a welcoming environment for these beneficial creatures and make it easier for them to thrive in your garden.
#2: Plant the Right Flowers
Pollinators prefer some flowers over others. Brightly colors blooms and bell-shaped flowers are favored by hummingbirds and honey bees alike.
Sunflowers, salvia, bee balm, butterfly bush, butterfly weed, and blanket flower are just a few examples of the many beautiful flowers you can grow in or near your garden to help attract more pollinators.
When in doubt, plants native to your area are always a good choice. A quick online search of “find native plants in my area” will help you identify suitable candidates for your garden. While you’re at it, try to incorporate a diverse mixture of these pollinator-friendly blooms into your garden to attract a wider variety of beneficial creatures.
Milkweed is one plant you should consider planting because it is an excellent food source for Monarch butterflies. With the natural habitat for milkweed dwindling, these beautiful butterflies can use all the extra help they can get.
#3: Offer Shelter
You can also attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden by offering adequate shelter for them. Different pollinators have different nesting and habitat requirements, so do a little research to identify what works best for the beneficial creatures you want to attract.
Offering shelter to pollinators don’t need to be overly complicated, however. Something as simple as allowing a log to decompose on your property or strategically placing artificial nesting boxes around your garden should help.
#4 Provide Food & Water
Planting plenty of brightly colored native flowers will help attract more pollinators to your garden, but you can also take it a step further. For example, you can set up hummingbird feeders to help attract more butterflies and hummingbirds to your property.
These pollinators will be happy to return repeatedly as long as you provide a dependable source of food for them. You can also set up birdbaths, a water fountain, or even a shallow catch basin for rainwater to attract different types of butterflies, moths, and bees with a continuous supply of fresh water – just be sure to rinse out standing sources of water regularly to keep the local mosquito population in check.