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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Organic gardening in Ireland / Alternative and Sustainable Gardening practices

Attracting ladybirds onto the garden

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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 7:12 pm    Post subject: Attracting ladybirds onto the garden Reply with quote

Probably the most familiar of our beetles, ladybirds are one of the few insects widely regarded with respect and even affection. This friendship is an old one.

Ladybirds have long been connected with good fortune in myths and legends, and from an early age children still learn to treasure them through storybooks and rhymes. Such high regard is well-earned. Most ladybirds and their young (larvae) are carnivorous, feeding on and helping to control large numbers of insect pests, particularly greenfly. They can also eat mites, scale insects, mealy bugs and small caterpillars.

As one of the major natural predators of greenfly, ladybirds have a special place in the garden. Here are some ways you can make your garden ladybird-friendly.

Cultivate a patch of nettles
(Urtica dioica): The nettle aphid (not a garden pest) is one of the earliest to appear in the spring. It is a favourite food of hungry ladybirds coming out of hibernation and looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. The nettles should be in a sunny spot. Cut them back in summer to encourage ladybirds to move onto other plants.

Don't panic and spray as soon as you see greenfly:
Give natural predators, including ladybirds, a chance. Be patient! Ladybirds and other predators will only settle in if there is a plentiful supply of food i.e. greenfly.

Avoid pesticide sprays: Even approved organic sprays can harm beneficial insects. Both derris and pyrethrum have been shown to be harmful to adult ladybirds, their eggs and larvae. If you get desperate use soft soap or insecticidal soap to spot spray pest colonies. Try to avoid directly spraying ladybirds or their larvae, removing them first whenever possible. The organically approved fungicide sprays - Bordeaux mixture and sulphur are relatively safe for ladybirds (but sulphur can harm other beneficial insects).

Rescue lost ladybird larvae:
Ladybirds do not always lay their eggs near a food source and the larvae are not very efficient at finding their prey. They do not use sight or smell - just move up the plant hoping to bump into a tasty morsel. If you find them wandering aimlessly move them to an aphid colony.

Leave hibernation sites for ladybirds: Hibernating ladybirds shelter in dying vegetation/plant debris, so delay cutting back or clearing up borders until spring. Dead-head plants with hollow stems to give ladybirds easier access, or cut stems back then stack them in a dryish sheltered spot. The hollow stems of plants such as angelica and fennel (Umbellifer family) make favourite hibernation sites.

There is a new type of ladybird in the garden which eats the common ladybird afterthe greenfly have gone. Does anyone know more information?



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Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:24 am    Post subject: Ladybugs Reply with quote


All excellent suggestions. What I have found is that using ANY form of spray reduces the chances of ladbugs coming into the garden. They seem to be very sensitive to even trace amounts of pesticides. I choose never to spray for anything except lime sulphur on the dormant peach trees in late winter. The ladybugs will arrive when you have an aphid population and that is always the case when I have artichokes.

John (Los Angeles)
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ihave smeared some ladybird food/attractant onto a ladybird habitat. How often should this be re-applied without disturbing any newly arrived ladybirds?
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