Attracting Ladybugs and Butterflies To Your Garden

Sometimes you want to invite certain pests, insects, and other creatures into your life! For beauty, fun, color, to save the world, whatever your reason, let’s build a garden that welcomes in the beautiful creatures and attracts ladybugs and butterflies.   One thing to note for all beneficial bug hopefuls is to try a popular trend right now that makes a lot of sense. There are practical options and downright zen or beautiful ones; expensive or DIY from what you have on hand. Whatever you choose, try something that leaves water out for the bugs you desire. The very easiest way to do this is to fill shallow dishes with small rocks, marbles, or pebbles that you place on the ground throughout your garden space. You’ll make a routine during watering to keep approximately half of the level of the rocks covered in water so your good bugs never go thirsty and fly away.   The Benefits And Beauty Of Ladybugs   Ladybugs, also known as lady beetles or even ladybird beetles, are wee tiny things of beauty and whimsy that also have a great impact on pest control naturally in your garden and yard. They’re considered a “beneficial insect” so we should invite them in. If you make your outdoor space a safe haven for ladybugs, you’ll be an organic gardener by default, because you’ll bypass pesticides and let this tiny beetle voraciously consume the yucky pests that attack your plants.   This little insect with the whimsical shiny red body and black spots is an environmentally friendly way to control harmful insects like aphids, scales, mealybugs, whiteflies, leaf hoppers, mites, and other soft-bodied, destructive pests. Starting in the larval stage, ladybugs emerge from their eggs and begin to eat prey by piercing their soft bodies and eating their insides. Hundreds of aphids a week can be consumed by just one larvae! Adult ladybugs eat thousands in their lifecycle.   How To Fill Your Garden With Ladybugs   Ladybugs need an abundant food source, water, and safety. Attract them (or buy and release them) and keep them happy by providing water, ground cover, and fragrant, colorful plants. Online we found a recipe for an artificial insect attractant you can spray your plants with by mixing 10 parts water with one part sugar and one part brewer’s yeast or whey yeast. Oh, and stay away from chemical pesticides or you’ll effectively remove their food supply and they’ll look for greener pastures.   Choose plants that are colorful and attractive like marigold, yarrow, zinnias, sunflowers, and cosmos. Give your ladybugs lots of their favorite herbs like dill, cilantro, caraway, and fennel. Provide them with low-growing plants and herbs (like thyme or oregano) or another ground cover for protection from predators (like a layer of straw mulch, if needed).   If you purchase ladybugs, when you release them you’ll want to do so in the evening. Daytime releases will trigger our beautiful bugs to fly away. After spraying with a fine mist or watering your plants gently so the leaves are moist and dripping, release your ladies either in the crooks of the lower leaves/stems or at the very base of the plant. Try them out on a colorful flowering plant first, or if you have aphid (or another kind of soft-bellied bug) infested plants, start there.   Bring On The Butterflies!   As a huge reminder, if you’re inviting butterflies into your space, you’ll need to tolerate their voracious chewing caterpillar stages. You’ll be essentially providing them with plants that they will eat to nubs! But you’ll be doing so for a larger payoff. However, learning as you go, you can strategically provide food for certain types of caterpillars, hidden among your other plants. It’s a wonderful science experiment in your backyard and a worthy hobby for the undertaking.   Why butterflies? While ladybugs help your garden, butterflies help the whole ecosystem on a few levels including natural pest control. And working as the second most productive pollinators (next to bees), they help our fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Being at the bottom of the food chain is also important as they provide food for birds, mammals, and other insects in our environment to keep it healthy and thriving. Not to mention, their fluttering beauty enhances your own life!   In order to keep butterflies coming, you’ll need plants in your garden to serve as a host for caterpillars. Not every plant does, so some research is needed, especially if you want a specific type of butterfly around.   You’ll also need to think ahead about things like the location of nectar-rich plants that encourage adult butterflies to stay. They should be planted in groups within the parameters of taller plant varieties to protect them from the wind.   You may wish to add winter shelter around your garden with natural or human-made crevices, trees, walls, mulch, etc. Empty sheds or pretty containers help. Sunny spots provided work wonders as butterflies will not fly until warmed to over 60 degrees. And don’t forget fragrance! Around your host and nectar plants should be plenty of fragrant plants.   Butterflies are nearsighted! So planting a colorful variety in a bunch is essential to helping them find the right flower. For instance, if you prefer swallowtails, you might place a swath of blue asters, or a group of goldenrod to excite the red admirals. Zinnias, daisies, and milkweed are also great additions.   And that’s about it! Below from OregonLive we’ve included their list of butterfly type and the types of host and nectar plants they love. Check out websites for butterflies common to your area and then make your garden a butterfly dreamscape.   Western Tiger Swallowtail Host plants: big-leaf maple, willow, aspen, cottonwood Nectar plants: common lilac, rhododendron, honeysuckle, milkweed, mock orange, sweet William, lavender, verbena, asters   Pale Swallowtail Host plants: buckbrush, cherry, plum, hawthorn, cascara, oceanspray Nectar plants: oceanspray, columbine, garden mint, thistle, blackberry, penstemon, sweet William, asters   Pure White Host plants: pine, Douglas-fir, true fir, hemlock, redcedar Nectar plants: dusty miller, daisies, coreopsis, lobelia, goldenrod, strawflower   Red Admiral Host plant: stinging nettle Nectar plants: daisy, aster, thistle, dandelion, goldenrod, milkweed, fireweed   Painted Lady Host plants: mostly thistle, sunflower, pearly everlasting, hollyhock Nectar plants: Oregon grape, rabbitbush, zinnia, dandelion, aster, cosmos, milkweed, purple coneflower   Great Spangled Fritillary Host plant: violet Nectar plants: gloriosa daisy, thistle, verbena, milkweed   Monarch Host plant: milkweed Nectar plants: milkweed, lantana, lilac, cosmos, goldenrod, zinnia   Woodland Skipper Host plant: grasses Nectar plants: bluebeard, lavender, oxeye daisy, garden sage, pearly everlasting, black-eyed Susan, aster   List from:   Have fun! Bring in the beneficial insects to your garden and you won’t regret it.   For more home, healthy recipes and House Cleaning Tips visit our blog.