Monday, May 5, 2014

Lady Bug Facts For An Organic Garden

Ladybugs are also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are an awesome defense for your organic garden. Each ladybug can chow down on up to 80 aphids a day and can eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. They mainly eat aphids, but they will also eat other small, soft-bodied insect larvae, insect eggs, and mites. They can also assist with pollination in areas where bee populations have decreased.

Usually the life cycle from egg to adult requires about three to four weeks, or up to six weeks during cooler spring months

Releasing your Lady bugs:
  • Buy your Ladybugs locally and ask that they be fed prior to your purchase. This will help as they will be more likely to bed down as they are full instead of looking for food right away. 
  • It is best to refrigerate (Not Freeze) your lady bugs for 1 day; this does not hurt them at all, but does make them lethargic for the first day or two. 
  • Release your Ladybugs at night into a moist garden, if the garden is too dry the ladybugs will fly away.

Keeping/Attracting Ladybugs:
  • In a large spray bottle, dissolve 1 cup of sugar into about 4 cups of water, add 1/4 of a cup of honey. Shake the mixture vigorously to mix all ingredients thoroughly. Spray on plants. Lady Bugs are attracted to the sweet mixture.
  • LBs love flowers and herbs so integrate them into your garden; Dill, Fennel, Feverfew and Cilantro
  • Keep a pretty dish or bird bath and add rocks into it so the LBs can sit around the water and have a nice drink and so that they don’t have to fly elsewhere to find a water source.
  • Give your LBs a place to call their own! They can be easily build if you are a do it yourselfer or call around to your local garden shops and see if they may have some in stock.

Other Bug facts for an organic garden:
  • Solutions of dish soap and water sprayed in a mist on the plants will also prevent pests from harming them.

Natural Pesticides:
  • The old school methods of using spray mists of diluted vinegar/water solutions, neem oil.
  • Soap and water solutions may take longer, but will do the job with no harm to the environment.
  • A garlic and pepper mixture placed in the soil or eggshells placed around the plants will deter many insects.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacteria that disrupts the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters. You can also use horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps and garlic and/or hot pepper sprays.
Happy Organic Gardening!
God bless,
Jacque Heaton