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How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 9, 2020 • 2 min read

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Ron Finley Teaches Gardening

There are over 200 species of ladybugs native to North America and 5,000 species worldwide. Also known as lady beetles (or ladybirds in Britain), these red or yellow black-spotted beneficial insects are one of the best forms of natural pest control available for gardeners.

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Ron Finley Teaches GardeningRon Finley Teaches Gardening

Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.

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Why Are Ladybugs Good For Your Garden?

Ladybugs are a valuable presence in any home garden due to their appetite for pests that wreak havoc on plants. While chemical pesticides are hazardous to the environment, ladybugs are a safe and effective natural form of pest control. Some of the many harmful insects that ladybugs eat include aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, scale insects, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and thrips. Ladybugs will even feed on powdery mildew fungus.

Which Plants Attract Ladybugs?

In addition to eating pests like aphids, ladybugs eat the pollen in various types of garden plants. Grow the following plants to attract ladybugs, and remember to deadhead any flowering plants, so they keep blooming their pollen-rich flowers for as long as possible.

  • Angelica
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Calendula
  • Caraway
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Coreopsis (tickseed)
  • Cosmos
  • Dandelion
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Feverfew
  • Geranium
  • Marigold
  • Parsley
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Statice
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Tansy
  • Wild carrot
  • Yarrow

4 Tips for Attracting Ladybugs to Your Garden

If you're struggling to attract native ladybugs to your garden, you may decide to purchase mail-order ladybugs as an alternative. While this is an easy solution, it's not ideal, as foreign ladybugs may be harmful to your local ecosystem. Instead, follow these helpful tips to attract native ladybugs to your home garden.

  1. Provide a water source. Try leaving out shallow water bowls and damp paper towels so passing ladybugs are tempted to make a pit stop in your garden for a drink. If using water bowls, fill the bowl with small stones up to the water surface so the ladybugs won't drown as they hydrate.
  2. Provide shelter. Plant low groundcover plants like oregano and thyme in order to provide ladybugs with a protective hideout from predators, such as birds and toads. Mulch and leaves make an effective refuge as well. If you enjoy a DIY project, you can also build a ladybug house to entice these good bugs to stay in your garden. A ladybug house is simply a small wooden box with holes that contains a lure (such as raisins or sugar water) to attract ladybugs. An added bonus of building a ladybug house is that it may attract additional beneficial insects like bees and green lacewings.
  3. Avoid pesticides. Though you may intend to use pesticides to only kill bad bugs, pesticides will kill ladybugs in addition to garden pests.
  4. Plant decoy plants for aphids. Aphids are a favorite food source for ladybugs and will attract ladybugs to your garden, but you may be wondering: Is it counterproductive to intentionally lure harmful aphids just to provide ladybugs with a delicious snack? While you don't want aphids infesting your main plants, a safe way to attract aphids is to plant decoy plants nearby for aphids to eat instead of your main plants. Effective decoy plants that will attract aphids include nasturtiums, radishes, early cabbages, and marigolds.
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Grow your own food with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the MasterClass Annual Membership and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.

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