Ladybugs fly away

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Purchase ladybugs for release only after you see aphids on your plants.  It won’t do you much good to release them into a garden where there is no food.  They will fly away and look for a place to lay their eggs on plants with aphids so the newly hatched larvae will have an immediate food source.

Use pheromones that attract ladybug species.  There are pheromone lures available commercially from some of the ladybug information sites on the internet.  The liquid pheromone attractant can be put on plants or structures near the garden and plants that are susceptible to aphid and scale insect infestations.  It can also be used when releasing to keep them interested in staying in the area.

Feed them.  If there are not enough aphids available then be sure to have plant pollen and nectar plants that attract beneficial insects growing in the yard.   There are many different sources of information on how to plant a garden that will attract beneficial insects and them and give them a safe place to hide with extra food sources.  Many beneficial insects need pollen or nectar when adults to feed on. 

Don’t kill all your aphids.  They are the main food source of Ladybugs and their larvae.  Only control the aphids on plants that can’t withstand an aphid onslaught.  You can also knock the aphids off with plain water to reduce the damage to new growing tips of plants without harming the good bugs.

Give them a drink.  The adults will need a water source especially in dry climates.  A shallow pan or bird bath will provide water for the adults when there are no juicy insects readily available to feed on.  Especially during the times when plant pollen is the only food source between aphid infestations.

Ladybug boxes or habitats.  Some internet sites and garden stores have boxes similar to a bird house that are designed as a safe haven for ladybugs.  They make a nice garden decoration and the ladybugs can be released from them.  This can be a fun project for your children to learn more about good bugs.

Learn to identify the pupal stages of the beetles and let them be until they have hatched.   There may be times when you will find lots of them stuck to the outside wall of your house.  Wait until they have exited the shells before you brush them off. The more beetles that are allowed to make it to adults,  the more there will be in the next generation.

If you use chemical pesticides do some research and use the ones that are safe for use around beneficial insects.  There are some insecticides that are systemic, such as ‘imidicloprid’,  that kill sucking insects but will not harm the lady beetles and other predatory insects. 

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