Attract ladybirds into your garden
Ladybirds (ladybugs) are one of the best beneficial insects you can invite into the garden. They are a great organic pest control, feeding on aphids. Having a garden teeming with ladybirds will help to maintain a healthy balance in your flower beds and vegetable garden.
Our gardens provide nature with a corridor of green space to travel between countryside and urban spaces. Planting native plants and trees will invite birds, mammals and beneficial insects into your garden.
Ladybirds found in gardens
The 7-spot ladybird is native to UK gardens and very beneficial for organic pest control. The 7-spot ladybird is easy to recognise with its red wings patterned with 7 black spots and a black and white patterned thorax. They feed on aphids and pollen from a variety of plants. Found in gardens and parks, they will gather anywhere there are aphids to feed on. The adults hibernate, sometimes in large clusters together, in hollow plant stems and small cavities. They migrate here from the continent every spring and feed on the aphids which plague our flower beds.
Another common ladybird to been seen in our gardens is the Harlequin ladybird. This can be recognised by its different colouring and patterns to the native 7-spot ladybird. The Harlequin has red or orange wings with up to 19 black spots and a noticeable white triangle on its head. Harlequin ladybirds are an invasive species and very damaging to our native insects. They out compete insects feeding on aphids and will eat other ladybirds` eggs and larvae depleting the numbers of beneficial insects.
Plants that attract ladybirds
You can help to boost the numbers of ladybirds in your garden by planting flowers which provide the pollen they love to feed on. They are drawn to bright fragrant flowers like sunflowers and geraniums. They also thrive in herb gardens which provide a food source from the flowers of dill, chives, coriander, oregano and thyme. Growing garlic will attract ladybirds to the flowers while repelling garden pests like flies and mosquitoes. The plants in herb gardens also provide ladybirds with plenty of cover to hide from predators.
Building a ladybird home will provide these wonderful insects with a safe, dry place to hibernate, lay their eggs and shelter from the cold weather. In an area where you know they gather, perhaps in a flower bed with calendula, nasturtiums or cornflowers, create a safe retreat for them to encourage them to stay in your garden. There are lots of different ways to build a ladybird home. Ladybirds like dense foliage and hollow canes to shelter in.
Build a ladybird hotel
- An easy bug home to place in your garden is a hollow cane like bamboo. Thread string through the hole of the bamboo cane. Hang onto a fence post, shed siding or in shrubs and trees.
- Fill a tube with sticks and hollow canes to create an inviting place to shelter. Place the habitat near an area where ladybirds gather.
- Drill small holes into a block of wood or an old tree branch. Hang it on a nearby fence post.
- Create a bug hotel using a nesting box. Fill the opening with hollow canes and sticks. Place it in trees and shrubs, no higher than 1 meter up.
Ladybirds need a safe, dry shelter to hibernate and lay their eggs. The entrance gaps to the bug hotel should be quite small so that only they can get into the safe space keeping larger predators out. Encourage ladybirds into your bug hotel by putting a few raisins inside for them to feed on. Place a dish nearby with fresh water for them to drink. Surround the bug hotel with lots of colourful, fragrant, inviting flowers.