Also known as lady birds or lady beetles, ladybugs help gardener's rid the garden of pests that damage plants, such as aphids and spider mites. The ladybugs eat these critters and protect the leaves that they, the ladybugs, lay their eggs in. The young larvae eat more pests than the adults do, but they can't fly. Nurseries often sell bags of ladybugs to spread in your garden, but you can also attract ladybugs to your garden through what you plant there.
Early Blooming Plants
Ladybugs don't just eat garden pests: they eat plants too. Specifically, ladybugs like to munch on pollen if they can't get a juicy aphid to snack on. Early blooming plants offer your ladybugs an alternate food source that will attract them to your garden. The ladybugs help pollinate these flowers, just like bees do. For this reason, don't worry that your replacing one plant killer with another. Good early blooming plants include buckwheat, cilantro, and legumes red or crimson clover.
Attract Aphids, Attract Ladybugs
Plants that bring in aphids will bring in ladybugs in pursuit of them. Again, this is a worthwhile strategy because ladybugs don't just eat aphids. They munch on spider mites and mealy insects, too. Plants that attract aphids include bronze fennel and vegetables, such as potatoes and cabbage. You'll find ladybug eggs in these plants. The ladybugs lay their eggs here so that when the eggs hatch the young larvae will have a ready source of food: aphids!
Different Flavors for Different Ladybugs
There are more than one kind of ladybug and each one has its own preferences for what will attract it to a garden. There is a lot of overlap; however, the harmonia ladybug and C7 both like early blooming flowering plants like cilantro and aphid bait plants. Hippodamia, on the other hand, is a species of ladybug that likes soft-bodied insects, most of which feast on vegetables. For this reason, hippodamia likes anything from the wild carrot family, including fennel and cilantro, but also yarrow and lambsquarters.