Ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata), also known as lady beetles or lady birds, are a type of beetle. There are more than 5,000 varieties around the world. They are prized by farmers and gardeners for their voracious appetite for aphids, mites and other plant-damaging insects. In its three- to six-week life span, a ladybug will devour more than 5,000 aphids. Ladybugs are easily recognized by their distinctive red or orange color and black spots. A ladybug house installed in your home garden invites ladybugs to stay and provide an organic, natural means of insect control.
A ladybug house provides an inviting spot for ladybugs to congregate on chilly nights. It offers shelter from wind, rain and predators. Ladybugs often congregate in fallen logs or inside the siding of houses. They seem to prefer light-colored wood or siding. A ladybug house, placed in an appropriate spot in the garden, helps prevent ladybugs from taking up residence in other locations in your home or garden sheds.
A maintained ladybug house offers a source of food. Soak a few raisins in water. Drain after the raisins are plumped, and place them in the ladybug house. The raisins will provide sustenance and water. Since ladybugs' favorite food is aphids, place the house near plants infested with the pests. Aphids are soft, plant-eating insects that especially like to feed on garden flowers and roses.
Ladybugs like to live in a house that is warmed by the sun. Hang the house on a building wall or fence post with a southwestern exposure. Ladybugs also naturally gravitate to locations where aphids are present.
Ladybugs secrete methoxypyrazine (IPMP,) a noxious emission that protects them from other predators. The scent permeates a nesting box and encourages them to continue to inhabit the ladybug house. A 2007 research study at Iowa State University indicates that orange ladybugs secrete more of the horrible smell than do yellow ladybugs. Ladybugs are also attracted by yarrow, angelica, dill, dandelions or wild carrot in the yard. You can also attract ladybugs by placing a quarter tsp. of baker's yeast in your ladybug house. Commercial ladybug houses and attracting-scent packets are available online or from home and garden supply stores.