Last week we talked about worms, so I guess it’s now time to talk about bugs! Nothing says “immersed in nature” like making friends with the local wildlife, so I think we’re doing something right! We recently released 1,500 ladybugs into our garden and it was such a fun experience. My kids loved it and I’m hoping this is something you can experience with your kids too. We’ve got all kinds of fun ladybug facts for kids below, plus tips on how to gently and effectively release ladybugs into your garden.
Ladybugs are wonderful for gardens because they’re capable of consuming up to 50 to 60 aphids per day! They will also eat a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, mealy bugs, moth eggs, leaf hoppers, mites, asparagus beetle larvae, whitefly and various types of soft-bodied insects. Releasing ladybugs into your garden is a really fun way to get kids interested in gardening and teach them about this amazing insect.
Fun ladybug facts for kids
- Ladybugs are also called ladybirds or ladybeetles.
- To help defend themselves, ladybugs play dead.
- They also can release a foul-smelling yellow fluid from their knees that other bugs find stinky.
- During winter ladybugs hibernate together to stay warm, usually in plant refuse and crevices.
- Ladybugs have two sets of wings – the outer set is the hard shell for protection and the inner set are what it uses to fly.
- The ladybug larvae resemble tiny black alligators.
- Ladybugs taste and smell with their antennae.
- They come in many colors, most commonly red, orange, yellow or scarlet with black dots on them.
- Within a year, there can be as many as 5-6 generations of ladybugs as the average time from egg to adult only takes about 3-4 weeks.
- They are found worldwide (except cold places like Arctic, Antarctica).
- Some ladybugs have white spots and some even have stripes.
- In the spring, females lay anywhere from 50-300 eggs, which are yellow & oval shaped and are usually found in clusters of 10-50
- Most known ladybug is the red one with 7 spots however other species can have different numbers of spots.
- They are omnivores – they eat other small insects, fruit, aphids.
- Ladybugs live from 2 to 3 years.
How to release ladybugs
We ordered 1,500 live ladybugs from Amazon, which arrived a few days after placing out order. The kids were so excited when they arrived and wanted to release them right away. However, there are a few things you need to do when releasing ladybugs to ensure they stick around to help out your garden.
As soon as they arrive, put the bag in a cool place (refrigerator) until late in the day. Make sure that the ladybugs are released in the evening into a soaking wet garden that has some aphids. If you release them into a dry garden or during the day, they will likely fly away. However, they won’t fly in the dark, so releasing them just after sunset ensures they’ll stay the night.
After their long journey, they are usually dehydrated when they arrive, so a soaked garden will provide opportunities for them to quench their thirst. When releasing, gently scatter or spread them out so each ladybug can find food and water immediately.And if they encounter aphids as they’re drinking, many of the ladybugs will decide that this garden is a good place to stay.
Get the kids involved
While I was really excited about the ladybugs, the kids absolutely loved being a part of the release. My fearless 5 year-old couldn’t get enough of them. He’s been knows to befriend bugs, crickets, worms and spiders, so his fascination with the ladybugs came as no surprise. I was excited to see him embrace the ladybugs and let them crawl all over him. I’m not sure this is typical kid behavior (my 2 year-old was not this enthusiastic about them), so don’t be worried if you child isn’t quite as into it! If you’re not squeamish about it, let them crawl on your hands too! Show your kids how to be gentle with them. Ladybugs don’t sting or bite, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.