While in the garden, we can often see ladybugs on our tomato plants, and not only. These little insects can be found in any sunny part of our garden. But why are they here? Can they damage our plants or are ladybugs actually good for tomato plants?
Ladybugs are predator insects and they are part of the beneficial insects. Ladybugs feed on pests that are on our tomato plants, such as aphids, spider mites, and ants.
If you see ladybugs in your garden, think of them like they are natural pest repellents and try to keep them safe.
If you don’t see them in your garden, but you find pests on your tomato plants, you can attract the ladybugs in different ways.
In this article, you can read about the benefits of having ladybugs in your garden, and how to attract these predator insects.
The Benefits of Ladybugs
Having ladybugs in your garden helps reduce and get rid of aphids and spider mites and their colonies.
However, you need to keep ladybugs around for long enough to get rid of entire colonies of pests.
Another benefit of keeping ladybugs around is the reduction or relocation of ant colonies that live around because of the aphids. The ants use the aphids to produce honeydew.
By reducing aphids’ and other pests’ populations, the chance of pathogens occurring will be smaller as well.
Disadvantages of Ladybugs
I would say there are no disadvantages to having ladybugs in your garden.
However, in some cases, ladybugs can be a headache. When the weather gets too cold, the ladybugs are searching for a warm place to hibernate.
Sometimes they choose to hibernate in buildings and houses, and sometimes they can be found in large groups in homes.
This can give people some trouble because obviously, not everyone would like to have a bunch of insects in their home.
Also, relocating them too late can lead to the death of the ladybugs, as these could run out of food and die.
This is why, when you see a ladybug in your home, gently encourage it into a jar or box, and then place it under a hedge or in a suitable sheltered place. Do this during the warmer part of the day.
How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden
To keep your garden pest-free, you need to attract and keep the ladybugs in your garden for long enough to start a colony on your property.
But can these insects be attracted to the garden? There are more things you can do and these will attract other beneficial insects as well.
Ensure a Water Source
Adding a saucer filled with water and some pebbles in it can attract and actually save beneficial insects such as ladybugs or bees.
These insects cannot survive in dry conditions, so they will come to your garden to have a refreshing drink from your saucer.
Protection Against Predators
Layers of leaves or straw mulch can be a great hiding spot for ladybugs. They need to hide during the day against hungry birds, insects, or other flying predators.
Planting shrubs, flowers, or other plants around your property, can also be a good choice to ensure shelter for these insects.
Another way of ensuring shelter for ladybugs is to build a “bug hotel” in your garden. This can be fun for us and our children as well while building it and then observing the insects moving in and out of the hotel.
Attracting Ladybugs with Plants
Some plants are not only great as a shelter for ladybugs, but also a great source of food.
As we know, ladybugs’ second favorite food is pollen. So, planting these fragrant plants and herbs will definitely attract lots of ladybugs to your garden:
- Raspberry Canes
- Sweet Alyssum
Organic Insect Attractant
Another way to attract ladybugs to your tomato plants is to use organic insect attractant spray. This can be either purchased or made at home.
If you prefer to make it yourself, then here is what you need to mix:
- 10 parts of water
- 1 part sugar
- 1 part brewer’s yeast/ whey yeast
Mix these ingredients and then put the mixture into a spray bottle. Then spray your tomato plants with it to attract more ladybugs.
If you want to step up immediately and need ladybugs A.S.A.P. to get rid of pests as soon as possible, you can buy the ladybugs.
Yes, it sounds crazy, but there are many sellers. I think this is the easiest way to bring as many ladybugs to your property as possible and as soon as possible.
After you receive the package, put the box into the fridge for a few hours to calm the bugs down and prevent them to fly away when you open the box. The cold makes them slower, but it will not hurt them.
When you release the ladybugs to your garden, make sure you do it at the right time and place.
Make sure you release them on an aphid-infested plant or one of their favorite blooming plants. Ensuring plenty of food for them will make them stay for longer.
Another factor you should think about is the temperature when you release the bugs. The sun and its heat encourage the ladybugs to fly away.
So, the best time is at dawn or dusk, when the temperatures are cooler and the light is low.
If you want ladybugs and other beneficial insects in your garden, then make sure you avoid using broad-spectrum insecticides.
These insecticides kill any bugs and insects they come into contact with.
Instead, try using insecticidal soap or oil on your tomato plants to kill and prevent pests.
Ladybugs are gardeners’ best friends because these predator insects feed on pests such as aphids, ants, and spider mites that can suck out the life of your tomato plants.
Try to attract ladybugs to your garden by planting fragrant herbs and ensuring they have water to drink.
Avoid using insecticides in your garden to prevent killing the beneficial insects. Instead, use organic insecticidal soap or oil.