How to attract ladybirds to the veggie garden

Ladybirds are not just delightful visitors to the garden, they are also effective predators of aphids, mites, and even whitefly. Ladybirds are a reassuring sign of a healthy garden. Instead of waiting for them to arrive, why not actively invite them?

Plant pollen-rich flowers

Herbs with flat flower-heads, such as dill, fennel, yarrow and angelica, are a draw for ladybirds, and are natural companion plants in a veggie garden. Others that get the nod are scented geraniums, alyssum and marigolds, while nasturtiums will lure aphids and set up a food source for the ladybirds.

Provide a source of water

In very hot weather, ladybirds can become dehydrated. A gentle watering of the leaves of veggies (not tomatoes or squashes) and flowers will provide the droplets of water they need. It will also help to cool down the plants on a hot day.

Make a ladybird hotel

If you already have a bug hotel, just addhollow bamboo in which they can hide and put in some raisins to entice them. Another simple idea is to recycle an old terracotta pot, put in some bamboo cane offcuts (tied together), and then tuck straw around the bamboo to hold it in place. An old wooden box will also do, filled with hollow bamboo.

Make a ladybird feeder

This could be a great project for the kids. You’ll need a hollow bamboo cane about 5cm in diameter (try hardware outlets). Mark it off, about 20 – 25cm long. At either end, where it has been marked off, draw an angle of about 45°. Once cut, this will create an overhang that will keep out the rain. Use a small saw to cut the bamboo, being careful not to split it. Drill two holes at either end. Thread through some twine, making a double knot at each end, and tie so that you can hang up the feeder close to the plants you want protected. Put some raisins in the feeder. You can soften the raisins in some boiling water before adding them.

Good to know: Many insecticides are not ladybird friendly. If you are going to spray, read the information sheet before buying.

The Gardener