Ladybugs can be a very helpful ally in the fight against plant-damaging pests. Thankfully, it?s fairly easy to get these cheery bugs into your garden, with these tips and tricks. Here?s what you need to know about how to attract ladybugs to your garden?and why you should.
Organic gardening is wonderful. It ensures that everything you grow is completely safe and natural, which is especially important when . The only problem is that aphids like to eat organic veggies too! Having a squad of ladybugs on patrol in the garden can do wonders to get rid of common garden pests. This guide will tell you everything you need to attract and keep ladybugs in your garden and why you need to.
Why You Need to Know How to Attract Ladybugs
Not only are ladybugs absolutely beautiful with their cheery signature red and polka-dotted shells, but they are one of the . Wondering why? It?s all about what ladybugs eat!
What do Ladybugs Eat?
Ladybugs are pest-eating superheroes! They eat all the annoying little pests that you don?t want in your garden such as:
- and lots of other bad bugs!
Not only do ladybugs eat pests, but they eat a lot of them. In fact, one ladybug can eat 5,000 aphids over the course of its life! See why you should learn how to attract ladybugs?
Ladybug Life Cycle
In order to best attract ladybugs to your garden, it?s important to understand the ladybug life cycle and what they need in each stage of it. Here is a brief overview of how ladybugs hatch and mature.
Female ladybugs will lay a clutch of 10-50 bright yellow eggs on the underside of a leaf. They are careful to choose a location for their eggs that is in close proximity to a large amount of food for the larvae to eat when they hatch.
Often, ladybugs will choose areas close to large aphid populations to lay their eggs, as the aphids are a good source of food. A female ladybug will lay several egg clutches per season, and can lay up to 1,000 eggs in one year!
A few days after the eggs are laid, they hatch into larvae. Ladybug larvae are not quite as cute looking as the mature beetles. They have oblong bodies with spiny bumps all over them. Their bodies are mostly dark gray or black, with some bright orange or red spots or bands.
Familiarize yourself with the way ladybug larvae look so that you can recognize them when you see them in the garden.
Larvae need to eat a lot as they go through four different larval stages to reach maturity. Lucky for us, most of what they feed on is aphids, scale, mites, and other common garden pests, so if you see a ladybug larva in your garden, be happy! They are already doing good work for you this early in their life.
When a larva is big enough (see: has eaten enough pests), it is ready to pupate. At this time, the larva attaches itself to a leaf somewhere safe and its body undergoes a massive transformation over the course of 3-12 days. By the end of this process, the pupae?s body has formed into a mature ladybug.
You can recognize a newly mature ladybug by the color of its body. They are usually yellow or orange when they have recently finished the pupa stage, and will turn bright red as they age.
How to Attract Ladybugs
Now that you know why you should learn how to attract ladybugs, as well as what the ladybug life cycle is, let?s talk about how to actually attract these helpful insects.
Plant Things that Ladybugs Like to Eat
, dill, marigold, cilantro, chives, cosmos, and yarrow are all attractive to ladybugs, so pick your favorites and plant them around the garden this year.
Let Weeds Stay
Ladybugs love dandelions! Embrace these golden-flowered ?weeds? and let a few grow. Bonus: and have a ton of health benefits.
Give Ladybugs Water
Leave a shallow dish of water near some of your ladybug-attracting plants so they can have a drink when they need one. Add a few river stones or marbles to the dish to give ladybugs a place to sit as they drink. Refresh the water regularly so it doesn?t run out or become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Keep it Organic
Pesticides are not ladybug friendly. Stick to natural growing techniques and everyone will be happier. If you have a bad infestation, instead of using harmful chemicals, I recommend you try this .
Low-growing groundcovers give ladybugs protection by sheltering them from predators such as birds and other insects. and thyme are both good options.
A simple way to learn how to attract ladybugs is to plant some nasturtiums specifically for aphids. It will distract aphids from munching on your vegetables, and the aphids on the nasturtiums will, in turn, attract ladybugs who will eat them up along with all sorts of other pests in your garden.
Ladybugs will lay their eggs in an area with lots of aphids because they know their young will have a food source, so allowing a few aphids in your garden can bring you a lot more ladybugs who will grow up to patrol your whole garden and keep it safe.
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These beautiful botanical soap bars are equal parts pretty and practical! A clear soap bar is made into a work of art with botanicals such as flowers, leaves, and herbs, a perfect way to preserve your garden?s bounty. Whether you gift these or keep them for yourself, this melt and pour project is absolutely stunning.
This botanical soap is a fun project for encapsulating what grows in your own backyard to bring a little nature to your bath or shower. Handmade soap makes a lovely gift and it is surprisingly simple to make a large batch of botanical soaps with little effort. It?s amazing what you can create with the beauty of nature and a few melt and pour soap supplies!
Botanical Soap Recipe
I?m going to start this post off by sharing the basic soap recipe, and then we?ll get into the fun part, the botanicals!
Supplies Needed to Make Clear Soap Bars
- 1 teaspoon (your choice of scent)
- Botanicals (see test ingredients below for ideas)
If you haven?t done soapmaking before, this melt and pour soap is a great place to start. Here?s how to make the entire botanical soap project step by step.
Choose the Botanicals
Gather up a variety of flowers, leaves, and herbs that are small enough to fit into a silicone soap/cupcake mold. See the list below on the botanicals I tested for this recipe and choose the results that you like the best.
Make the Clear Soap Bars
Start with a so you can clearly see the botanicals when the soap is complete. Cut up the glycerine soap base into 1-inch cubes and add them to the Pyrex measuring cup.
Melt the soap base in a microwave or double-boiler so that it is just melted. You want the soap base to melt, but not cook. Remove the soap base from the microwave or off of the double boiler before it starts to steam. There may be a few chunks left, but that is just fine. Those will melt if you keep stirring the soap base for a few minutes after removing it from the heat.
When your soap base is melted, add in the essential oils to the soap mix.
Add in the Botanicals
Pour half of the soap into the silicone mold and add your botanicals. Allow them to set for a few minutes before topping up the molds with more melted soap base. You may need to gently poke the botanicals into place using a toothpick.
Use a metal spoon to skim any bubbles off the top of the soap before it dries.
Unmold the soaps when they are completely dry and then they are ready to use.
Botanical Soap Ingredient Ideas
As I mentioned above, I tested a number of different botanicals from the garden for this soap project. I definitely had some unexpected results! Let?s go through them one by one.
I am so in love with the saffron soap. It took on the color and lightness of saffron and is the most striking result of them all.
The chamomile botanical soap is another favorite as the soap magnifies the small flower heads and the stems float organically in the soap.
The calendula soap looks airy with pale yellow petals floating in the soap and bursts of the flower heads.
The rosemary was cut fresh, unlike the dried herbs. While it held its shape very well, it did start to brown a little in the soap, which I don?t like as much.
The eucalyptus leaves were hard to keep in place in the soap as they are so light that they float around quite a bit. They hold their color and shape beautifully, though. (Eucalyptus shown above)
I didn?t know what to expect from the nasturtium. It was a bit of a gamble, and I thought it would probably wilt and shrivel up. Surprisingly, it actually held the color and shape fairly well. I would use nasturtium petals next time to see if that changes the overall look.
Botanicals to Skip for This Project
There were a few botanical soaps that did not turn out very well, mainly the rose petal and sage leaf. I would probably try a bay leaf next time instead of a sage leaf. The sage leaf curled and browned in the soap and doesn?t look all that interesting. The rose petals turned into brown blobs in the soap and look really ugly.
What a surprise! I thought that the rose petal soap would look the prettiest. I have reserved the leftover rose petals for a whole different soap project that will let their beauty shine through.
More Soap Recipes to Try
Here are some more recipes for making soap at home. I love to make soap and I?m sure you will find a recipe or two that suits you here:
DIY Botanical Soap Bars
Microwave or double boiler
4-cup Pyrex measuring cup
Oval silicone soap/cupcake mold
- 2 lb
- 1 tsp in the scent of your choice
- botanicals see post for more info
Gather your botanicals. Make sure they are small enough to fit into the soap mold.
Cut your clear soap base into 1" cubes, then place them all into the glass measuring cup. Use the microwave or the double boiler to melt the cubes, making sure to stir frequently.
Remove the soap from heat before it begins to steam. Then add your essential oils to the soap and stir again.
Pour half of the soap into the mold. Next, layer your botanicals into the soap. Let them set for a few minutes, then top off the rest of the mold with melted soap.
If you notice any bubbles on the top of the soap, use a metal spoon to skim them off. Then allow them to dry fully.
Unmold and enjoy!