The Ladybug: A Yard’s Friend or Foe?

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • April 18, 2019

Why It’s Good (And Bad) To Have Ladybugs In Your Yard

Known for its red back and black spots, the ladybug is one of the most well-known beetles in the insect community. However, a ladybug isn’t just a bug, and it isn’t always red and black! Sometimes they’re orange-red, yellow, grey or even completely black. They may not even have spots!

So before ladybug facts get too confusing, we want to take the time to educate you on the good (and the bad) ladybugs you may encounter. We’ll also explain what positive, or negative, affects ladybugs may have on your lawn or garden.

Your Lawn’s New Best Friend: The Ladybug

Contrary to popular belief, a ladybug isn’t actually a bug—it’s a beetle. And as we mentioned before, a ladybug isn’t always red and black! So before you start killing off unknown beetles in your lawn or garden, take a few minutes to get to know the ladybug.

Many species of ladybugs are actually quite helpful for your lawn. Two species in particular, Harmonia axyridis and Hippodamia convergens, are known as “beneficials”. Both of these species are known to eat aphids, among other lawn-harming insects, which can greatly benefit the health of your lawn—hence the name beneficials.

The Trouble With Aphids

Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that suck the sugar-rich fluids from plant hosts. In more generic terms, aphids suck the sap out of your plants, causing stress and plant damage.

Even more, aphids secrete “honeydew”, a sugary substance that can cause fungus to grow on your plants. This fungus is extremely harmful to plants, and may even attract ants due to its sugary nature.

The Benefit of Ladybugs

This is when it pays off to have ladybugs around! Ladybugs are fondly referred to as the “Tyrannosaurus Rex” of the insect world—they are predatory beetles.

So, if you notice aphids snacking on your plants, you may want to consider adding or attracting ladybugs to your garden or lawn. The ladybugs will eat the aphids, resulting in less damage and stress to your precious plants. That way, the ladybugs are full and your plants are safe—win-win!

Think you may have something else besides aphids munching on your plants? Take a moment to read our blog: What Pest Is Snacking On Your Plants?

4 Tips To Attract Ladybugs To Your Yard

Maybe you’ve been thinking of adding ladybugs to your lawn or garden but aren’t sure of the best way to do it. To help, here are four ways to attract ladybugs to your yard:

1. Do not use chemicals

Refrain from using chemicals of any kind on your lawn, plants or garden. These will deter ladybugs, or even harm them, preventing them from doing their job to protect your yard.

2. Give them plenty to drink

Make sure you have plenty of water on or near your plants to quench your ladybug’s thirst. Try setting out a small bowl of water with pebbles inside so they have a place to safely rest while taking a drink. After all, you don’t want them flying into a nearby water source like a birdbath or fountain and getting stuck or dying!

Just be careful to not add too much moisture. Excess moisture may attract pests such as termites or mosquitoes to your yard or garden—neither of which you’ll want around your home!

3. Offer plants with lots of pollen and nectar

While ladybugs are predators, it’s actually their larvae that do most of the aphid-eating! Feed adult ladybugs by giving them plants with plenty of pollen and nectar. If the adults have an abundance of food and water, they’ll want to stick around—therefore meaning more ladybug babies and fewer aphids.

Please note: Ladybug larvae do not resemble ladybugs at all. They are actually quite spiny, and a little scary looking. Familiarize yourself with ladybug larvae before introducing ladybugs to your lawn or garden. You don’t want to kill them by accident!

4. Buy ladybugs

Last but not least, you can always go the easy route and buy ladybugs. While there are easier ways to maintain a healthy lawn all year long, you may opt for purchasing ladybugs instead. If you decide to do this, follow these tips to make sure ladybugs stick around:

  • Release ladybugs during the evening. If you release ladybugs during the day, they will fly away—ladybugs don’t fly at night.
  • Make sure there is plenty of water on your lawn or garden. If your lawn or garden is dry, ladybugs will fly away.
  • Give ladybug larvae plenty to eat—no aphids means no ladybugs! Make sure you’re releasing ladybugs into an area with an excess amount of aphids.

Pro Tip: When purchasing ladybugs, verify the size of your lawn or garden where ladybugs are needed to make sure you buy the right amount. You don’t want too little, or too many, ladybugs around your yard.

When trying to attract ladybugs, you may attract other beneficial, too! Some common ones you may want around your lawn are lacewings, mini-wasps and assassin bugs. All of these insects, plus many more, are not interested in harming you or your home—they just want to eat the pests that do!

Like ladybugs, lacewings will eat aphids and other pests that threaten your yard. Mini-wasps target caterpillars and assassin bugs are known to eliminate a common enemy to your lawn: the Japanese beetle.

So… Are There Any Reasons To Not Have Ladybugs Around Your Lawn?

In short, yes. Earlier we talked about the many different species of the ladybug. One subfamily, Epilachninae, is known to actually eat your plants, rather than pests. This serves as a reminder to always double check your species before introducing ladybugs into your yard!

Speaking of species, there is another ladybug foe you won’t want around your home—the Asian Lady Beetle.

Asian Lady Beetle vs. Ladybug

While an Asian Lady Beetle can still be beneficial to your lawn, there are quite a few reasons this beetle isn’t an ideal fit for your lawn or garden.

Like the ladybug, an Asian Lady Beetle eats aphids—approximately 5,000 of them in its lifetime, actually! However, Asian Lady Beetles have been known to bite humans when they feel threatened, or even come in contact with your skin. While the bite of a tiny beetle may not sound threatening, their bite may cause an allergic reaction in some people, so always be cautious.

Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles are difficult to tell apart since they generally look the same. The easiest way to distinguish them, though, is by the “M” or “W” shaped mark behind the Asian Lady Beetle’s head. Try to keep this mark in mind when deciding if your ladybug look-alike is a friend or foe!

Unlike the ladybug, however, Asian Lady Beetles are known to crawl through cracks in your home to get inside, especially during the fall and winter months. Not only will they leave behind an unsettling odor, but they will also begin to multiply and infest your home.

In large numbers, Asian Lady Beetles can sometimes cause severe allergic reactions that will require medical attention. These reactions can be serious, so always check the outside of your home for cracks or holes that may be giving pests like the Asian Lady Beetle a way inside.

Want A Healthy Lawn? Skip The Ladybugs and Call Killingsworth

There’s no denying the benefits of ladybugs. They truly are one of the greatest predators in the insect community that won’t harm your yard or home (as long as it’s the right species!). However, attracting enough ladybugs to your yard can be a struggle, and it isn’t always the best idea to buy ladybugs online. Plus, you don’t want to accidentally attract harmful pests to invade your yard and home!

So skip the ladybugs, and leave the lawn care to the experts at Killingsworth! We specialize in lawn care and pest control, so we’ll do our best to keep your lawn healthy and pest-free all year long.

After all, do you really want to trust a beetle to maintain your lawn? No! So don’t wait, give us a call today so we can talk about our organic Lawn Care Packages that will work best for your lawn—with or without ladybugs!

Think you may have more than just ladybugs crawling around your lawn? Download our free Pest Encyclopedia below to learn more about the pests you may have around your home, as well as our treatment and control options!ACCESS THE GUIDE

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