If you've been battling pests not in your home but in your garden, you may have reached a tipping point where pesticides are starting to look like a good idea even if you've been trying to avoid their use. One tactic for controlling mites, aphids, and scale is to buy (or attract) and release ladybugs, but there are a few things you should know before actually buying a case of these winged garden saviors. They do a good job, but if you aren't aware of these three considerations, you could end up making your situation worse.
While there are a few species in North America, two of the species stand out: Hippodamia convergens, also known as convergent ladybugs or lady beetles, and Harmonia axyridis, or the Asian ladybug. Buy only the convergent bugs because the Asian ladybugs can find their way into your home and become a pest themselves -- not to mention, they bite humans and are considered invasive in many areas. If you try attracting ladybugs instead of buying them, assuming you live in an area not currently dealing with swarms of them, monitor the ladybugs you find. If they're red and have distinct, separate white marks above the wings, they're convergent. If they're yellow or orange, and they have whitish blotches above the wings, they may be Asian beetles. If you start to attract a lot, spray the area (and douse the bugs) with warm, soapy water.
Supporting Your Ladybugs
So you've purchased or attracted the right species of ladybug; now it's time to be a good host. Provide shelter and food for times when garden pests are few (Apartment Therapy suggests building a feeder laced with raisins); mist plants before releasing the bugs so that they have some water while they bug-hunt. Keep them cool; release them in the evening and not in the middle of a scorching day.
They'll Leave Soon
Sadly, keeping ladybugs in your garden is a neverending project. Ladybugs you release will soon fly away, and those you attract may stick around for only a short time, too. If they do fly away, that's kind of a good sign that they've eaten so many bugs that the food supply in your garden is now low. However, you'll have to attract or release more ladybugs within a few days to prevent the garden pests from growing in number again. So you may have to work on this weekly or daily to ensure the ladybugs control the other garden pests.
If you have other questions about using ladybugs or have found yourself the unfortunate target of an infestation in your home, contact a pest control company, such as pest control by Peninsula Pest Control.