Looking to introduce ladybugs to your garden to get rid of that aphid problem? This is the best resource to learn where to buy ladybugs, and why you should actually not buy them!
If you’re trying to keep your garden protected from plant-damaging pests, you have probably considered using beneficial insects.
Indeed, it’s one of the best biological pest control strategies and can significantly reduce the pest population in your garden.
Ladybugs are likely the first beneficial insect that comes to your mind since these generalist predators have a strong reputation for their voracious appetite for aphids.
So, if you’re wondering where you can buy ladybugs, let’s find out.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy Ladybugs?
Now, before we get to your query, I feel it’s important for you to learn that buying ladybugs isn’t a very good idea.
Yes, it’s a common practice followed by gardeners and farmers, and you can easily procure a whole bunch of ladybugs (even thousands at a time) by purchasing them.
The commercial availability of ladybugs helps save us the hassle of hunting for them in the wild and gathering them. While this helped solve a problem, it also gave rise to new ones:
1. The ladybugs won’t stay long
First of all, the money you spend on the bugs would be largely going to waste. They will only eat a few bugs before heading off somewhere else.
This is because the commercially available ladybirds are often harvested while they’re hibernating in clusters and refrigerated.
They usually fly away soon after waking up. This is especially true for ladybugs harvested in a different region and transported to you, as they’d want to go back to their native habitat.
Although ladybug larvae are even more effective at controlling the aphid population, you’ll barely get any, as most of the female adults would migrate before laying the eggs.
2. The impact on native ladybugs
The practice of harvesting ladybugs for commercial purposes also has severe impacts on native species of ladybugs.
Companies harvest these bugs in millions, draining their native habitat.
This not only makes it harder for farmers and gardeners to obtain ladybugs without having to buy them but also allows competition from other species.
For instance, the excessive harvesting of the convergent ladybug in the US has paved the way for increased competition from Asian ladybugs.
Instead, you might consider attracting local ladybugs to your home through various methods, such as keeping out a bowl of water for them or leaving the light on.
3. Supporting ecological exploitation
The trade of harvesting and selling ladybugs is legal, but that doesn’t quite make it any less harmful to the ecosystem.
Businesses that sell these bugs have a special permit that allows them to harvest ladybugs from the wild.
However, environmental groups have been fighting against it for more than half a century now.
Supporting these businesses would only allow them to cause even more damage than what they’re already doing.
4. Invasive parasites
When you use commercially harvested ladybugs in your garden, you might be introducing an invasive species.
As mentioned earlier, these bugs are often harvested far away. This means the bugs may also carry parasites that can spread to the local species.
Who knows, you might end up having to drive away the ladybugs because they become an even bigger problem!
5. Ladybugs aren’t the only predators
Okay, ladybugs aren’t that common in your area – we get it. But ladybugs aren’t the only species of beneficial insects that help with pest control.
You can simply go for a different species of aphid predators rather than buying ladybugs. American hoverflies and various parasitic wasps can be of great help, as can lacewings.
Types of Ladybugs Commercial Available in the US
Most of the common ladybug species are commercially available in the US. While some of them require harvesting in the wild, the rest are reared at commercial insectaries.
The convergent lady beetle and the Asian lady beetle fall into the former category.
Commercially reared species include the two-spot ladybug (Aalia bidpunctatata) and the spotted ladybug (Coleomegilla maculate).
They also rear certain ladybugs as specialist predators, but those aren’t quite useful to homeowners.
Where Can You Buy Them?
As mentioned earlier, you should refrain from buying ladybugs in the first place due to the associated downsides.
If you still wish to go ahead with it, you can purchase them from online retailers or bug stores near you.
Planet Natural is one of the leading online retailers of ladybugs, and Green Thumb can ship them to you in the US too.
Of course, Amazon doesn’t disappoint either – you can buy almost everything from Amazon, including beneficial insects like ladybugs.
If you are willing to shell out a little more money to get ladybugs harvested in insect farms, Insect Lore is a good place to buy them from.
How to Release Ladybugs?
Release ladybugs on your plants, ideally at the base or at the crotches of the lower branches.
As most of them will eventually leave, the best you can do is make them stay as long as possible.
This is why it’s a good idea to spray a mist of water on the plants before you release the bugs. A water source can make them stick around for longer.
You should release the ladybugs during the dusk or early evening to make them stay longer.
Releasing ladybugs during the day, especially when it’s sunny, results in them flying away almost immediately.
Lastly, make sure not to release them on a plant that you have treated with pesticides, as it would kill them.
In case you spread essential oils or insecticidal soaps, it’s okay to release the bugs once the liquid has dried up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can ladybugs be purchased?
Yes, you can purchase ladybugs and other beneficial insects from bug stores – both physical locations and online retailers.
It’s quite common for people to buy these natural predators in large numbers for their gardens, agricultural fields, and greenhouses.
Where is a good place to find ladybugs?
Ladybugs are quite widespread and usually live amidst vegetation. You can find them in gardens, forests, weed patches, etc.
If you wish to buy ladybugs, you can get them from a nearby bug store or an online store like Planet Natural or Amazon.
What time of year can you buy ladybugs?
You can buy ladybugs at any time of the year except in winter. This is because it’s during the winter that they go into hibernation.
They’ll spend most of the season hibernating instead of serving the purpose you bought them for. When winter ends, they’ll fly off to lay eggs somewhere else.
Are ladybugs worth buying?
Although buying ladybugs is an easy way to procure them, you’re better off gathering them in the wild or looking for other natural predators.
Commercially available ladybugs aren’t very effective as they migrate away soon after finishing their hibernation, which makes them a waste of money.
Considering the damage that black aphids can cause to your garden, getting a bunch of ladybugs is indeed a good idea.
They can effectively destroy pest populations by preying on adults, larvae, and eggs alike. To attract ladybugs naturally, you need to provide them with food sources and shelter.
A variety of plants that attract aphids and work well as trap plants are good for this.
Thank you for reading, and we hope you’ll find a way to get ladybugs in your garden without having to buy them!