Ladybugs are fun to look at, and many gardeners welcome them to their garden as a form of natural pest control. These colorful insects love to eat mites and aphids, and a single adult will eat as many as 50 aphids a day.
Should You Use Ladybugs for Pest Control?
When you’re exploring options for controlling other insects on your property, you might come across recommendations to do a ladybug release. This can have some benefits for reducing aphid populations, but you need to know that this shouldn’t be your only method for pest control.
Wild-Harvested Ladybugs Could Harbor Diseases
Many companies that sell ladybugs for release capture them in the wild. These ladybugs often have parasites that you could introduce to your local environment if they are not from your area.
Since these parasites can limit the lifespan of ladybugs and reduce the number of eggs they lay, bringing in infected ones could impact the populations that you want to have in your outdoor space.
Ladybugs Tend to Fly Away
You can make the most ladybug-friendly garden in the world but still find it hard to keep these transient insects in your yard. Most released ladybugs fly away within 48 hours, and you might not see any within the span of a week. You’re likely to notice a decrease in aphids and mites during the time that the ladybugs are present, but you’ll be back to square one after they leave your property.
Large Populations Tend to Attract Predators
Natural methods for insect control can sometimes backfire. A couple of ladybugs in your garden likely won’t do much harm, but a sudden explosion in population size could look like a feast to other pests.
Birds love to eat ladybugs, and having a big flock arrive around leave your garden full of droppings. Spiders, stink bugs and wasps are predators that could increase in population on your property when they find a steady supply of food.
Ladybugs Are Often Confused With the Asian Lady Beetle
Most of the time, ladybugs don’t do much harm, but they have a sinister lookalike. The Asian Lady Beetle looks similar to a ladybug, but you may be able to spot a few telltale differences, such as them having a white spot that looks like the letter “m” on the black band behind their head.
This species of insect is more aggressive than the traditional ladybug. They can bite humans and tend to invade homes more often than regular ladybugs. Seeing these insects in your house is a sign that you need to upgrade your pest control methods.
They Don’t Eat Bigger Bugs
If your only problem is some aphids outside, then you’re doing pretty well. The majority of people have bigger control needs though. Ladybugs don’t eat cockroaches, ants and other nuisance insects, which means that you’ll still need to plan for spraying to keep them away from your property.
Attracting ladybugs to your property by planting marigolds, asters and other fragrant flowers in your landscape typically won’t do any harm. Small populations of these bright red insects can be helpful for keeping aphids and other tiny pests at bay. Even if you spot some ladybugs in your garden, you’ll need to keep up your other pest control measures.
You should also keep an eye on the ladybug population. If they begin to come inside, or you suspect that they are really Asian lady beetles, you’ll want to call us out to do an inspection.
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