Using Ladybugs as a Natural Garden Defender
While the thought of using bugs in the garden might seem a bit unusual to the idea of keeping it in the best possible shape, the reality is that ladybugs are highly effective as a natural garden fighter. Ladybirds, or coccinellids, are particularly ideal for gardens in the sense that they both reduce the impact of more problematic insects and bugs, while also removing the need for harmful pesticides. Easy to both attract and purchase, ladybirds should, however, be used with a care towards keeping a healthy life cycle for them and your garden. Some of the key benefits for ladybirds in the garden include:
Attacking Other Insects
Ladybirds feed on aphids and other small insects like plant lice, which can cause significant damage to a crop if left unattended. An average ladybird can consume a large amount of aphids during their life cycle, and when used effectively, can lower the amount of damage caused to plants and vegetation.
Removing the Need for Pesticides
By using ladybirds as a natural solution to removing aphids from crops, you remove the need to use harmful pesticides. The benefits for doing so will be a healthier crop, and reduced levels of toxicity for the environment.
Ladybirds’ brightly coloured shells mean that they act as a natural deterrent to birds and other mammals. Ladybirds also secret chemicals that deter other insects from attacking them and the plants that they nest on. These chemicals are not harmful to humans.
The Proper Uses of Ladybirds
When attracting or purchasing ladybirds for your garden, it is important to focus on creating the best possible environment for them to thrive, while also understanding their specific needs and life cycles.
Ladybugs are more likely to be attracted to a garden in the Spring and the Summer. High levels of pollen can help to draw in ladybugs, as can a large amount of vegetables and fruits like cucumbers and tomatoes.
Purchase Time and Life Cycles
Ladybugs should be released during the daytime into a garden, and should ideally be purchased from a pet shop or a specialty retailer during the Spring or the Summer. With a life cycle of around 8-10 days, it is important that ladybugs are bought in enough quantities to ensure that they mate and lay eggs. During the winter ladybugs tend to hibernate, and will not have the same effect on your crops. If properly maintained and released, a ladybug colony can produce a consistent life cycle of eggs and new ladybugs.
It is also possible to cultivate a ladybug colony through the use of artificial food. Wheast is perhaps the most common form of ladybug food, and is distributed through a spray onto plants and vegetables.
As with any form of insects, you may have to accept trial problems and difficulties with ladybugs in the garden. The season might be wrong for them to work effectively, or they might not develop a healthy life cycle. Many Ladybugs may also simply fly away after a short period in your garden, rather than settling into the local environment.
Christina Appleworth writes about environmental issues for www.selectenviro.co.uk, high quality, innovative, commercial waste collection and disposal solutions!
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